Government says funding is DHS role

DRAFT: Concept plans for the new women's refuge.

DRAFT: Concept plans for the new women's refuge.

HOUSING minister Wendy Lovell is aware of plans for a new refuge for women and children fleeing violence, but maintains the decision as to whether it's funded rests with the Department of Human Services.

A spokesperson for the minster said the DHS was involved in ongoing discussions with Annie North about the new cluster model refuge.

"Minister Lovell is aware of the matter regarding Annie North, however the process for considering these decisions is an internal departmental process and is managed by the capital works committee,'' the spokesperson said.

"Last week, a senior DHS representative advised the CEO at Annie North that the project was still under consideration.''

The committee responsible for making the decision was set up by the state government in January last year, as part of the department's new governance arrangements. "The committee reviews and considers  projects based on population needs, finances, and commitments,'' the spokesperson said.

"The department's capital program varies year to year based on funding available.''

That funding comes from various revenue streams including Commonwealth and state funding, rental revenue from DHS-owned properties and the Victorian Property Fund.

The capital committee reports to the Department of Human Services board.

Annie North was told last year the project had "elevated'' on the list of priorities, but in the week of this year's State Budget, was told the project had stalled. The organisation has been sitting on plans for the new refuge, for which the state government has had land put aside in Bendigo for three years.

The cluster will be a tastefully-designed walled community with seven self-contained units and room to extend. It will include counselling rooms, group work rooms, training rooms and a computer room. A sound-proof room will also allow for court hearings, so some women and children do not have to go to court and face their abuser.

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