WESNET was first conceived in December 1992 during the national evaluation of the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), which identified a lack of national representation of the needs of women and children utilising SAAP services. Incorporated in 1994 after extensive sector consultation, WESNET was originally established to represent women’s services funded through the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), including women’s refuges, safe houses, women’s housing programs, domestic violence outreach, information and referral services. WESNET’s initial purpose was to improve and promote high quality service provision to women and women with children who are escaping domestic violence or who are homeless for some other reason. WESNET has achieved a number of key outcomes since incorporation, including:
- Our establishment as a well respected peak body and key contributor to national domestic and family violence policy and debate.
- Facilitating national debate and networking of women’s services through our newsletter Accommodating Women, convening sector forums and the hosting of two national conferences.
- Positive contributions to national policy including: introduction of Centrelink Crisis Payment for women and children escaping domestic and family violence; increased resources for Indigenous family violence responses; reforms to domestic violence provisions under immigration law; significant input into the development of SAAP and PADV.
- Conducting important research projects on key issues such as: examining domestic and family violence in rural and remote communities; developing national model domestic violence laws; examining the link between homeless and violence against women.