Sydney women's shelters face closure

Legislation has been introduced to help curb the prevalence of domestic violence in Queensland. Source: AAP

More than two dozen specialist women’s shelters could be forced to close in metropolitan Sydney as the New South Wales government finalises a major reform into homeless services funding.

Representatives of women’s support groups, shelters and services met in Sydney today to express their concerns. 

Kate Timmins from SOS Women’s Services said as many as 20 women’s shelters across the city could face closure.

"There’s an increase in rough sleeping happening right now, women are unable to get beds in services in Sydney tonight," she said.

Last year, the NSW Government commenced a major restructure of the way homeless funding in the state is allocated.

While no spending cuts are proposed, a redistribution of funds could see reduced services in metropolitan Sydney while more services are built up in regional areas across the state. 

Ms Timmins said the development of new services outside of Sydney shouldn’t come at the expense of established shelters.

"Although we support the establishment of services, domestic violence services particularly in regional areas, we don’t support those funding changes out of the inner city."

"[We're] actually just calling on the Minister to commit $5.5 million to guarantee that these services can remain open."

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich said smaller, specialised services such as those dealing with sexual abuse, mental illness and alcohol dependence were most at risk.

"To cut funding from these inner-city services would be a cruel and heartless move," he said.

Gabrielle Upton, who took over the NSW portfolio for Community and Family Services last month, said no decisions had yet been finalised.  

"We know we have a growing number of homeless, which is why the reforms have come forward over a long period of consultation," she said.

"We know we have to make changes, but they have to be fair. They have to be fair across New South Wales. They have to be fair to inner-city services."

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