Service gaps in region leaves family violence survivors with limited support


MEMBER for Lowan Emma Kealy has called on the state government to do more to support survivors of family violence.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence identified limited access to support services in Victoria. 

The government announced the best model was a family violence support and safety hub for each Department of Health and Human Services region. 

But Ms Kealy said the government was inflexible in its approach because the western region of the department covered a quarter of the state - from Brim to Warrnambool. 

She said it was unacceptable for women to be disadvantaged because the support and safety hub catered to a wide geographical area. 

“Western Victoria has some of the highest rates of family violence and yet the state government has only allocated one support and safety hub for almost a quarter of the state to support women seeking urgent help to escape violent family situations,” she said. 

Ms Kealy said the government had a role to play to ensure women in the community were safe. 

She said the government had a responsibility to ensure the support was there for women to leave violent relationships. 

“We actually need investment to ensure that women in our region have access to counselling and support services they need to seek a different life than the one they are living with family violence,” she said. 

“If the government is serious enough to put an end to family violence, then rather than rolling out slogans all the time they need to put cash behind it to make sure the services are available.” 

Grampians Community Health have experienced a high demand for its family violence services. Their eight full-time caseworkers could support between 13 and 16 clients at any given time. 

“Grampians Community Health is doing the best it can with the small amount of funding it is provided for family violence counselling,” she said. 

But with limited resources she said the government was letting women down. 

“We need real action so that these women have a safe place to go because at the moment I believe the nearest refuge is in Ballarat,” she said. 

Ms Kealy said family violence survivors should not need to travel such a long distance to change their situation. She said women needed a safe refuge within their communities and surrounded by their support system. 

“It’s too greater ask for people to pack up their belongings, take their kids out of school and away from their social network and their own social network – that’s a reason why people don’t leave violent relationships,” she said.  

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