WIMMERA leaders are continuing to advocate for a safety hub for women and children in Horsham.
The state government last year invested $448 million towards building 17 hubs across the state to support people affected by family violence.
They are designed to connect people directly to services and provide a co-ordinated response to a range of needs. The first of the hubs – known as The Orange Door – opened in Geelong this month.
The government has committed to a hub in the western district, which includes much of the Wimmera as well as Hamilton, Portland and Warrnambool.
However the government has not announced where in the area the hub will be.
Uniting Wimmera has led the push for the hub to be in Horsham.
Related: Safety hubs are critical
Executive officer Wendy Sturgess said the group had advocated on a number of fronts, including through the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership.
“We've had some traction with Minister Gavin Jennings, who is in charge of rolling out the hubs. He visited Stawell and we ran a round table,” she said.
“We believe the minister will return to the Wimmera in October to run another one.
“Whenever we have an opportunity we raise the issue, because of the family violence rate in this area and the fact people won't be able to travel to outlying areas if they build the hub in Warrnambool for example.
“It will be insurmountable – people will not be able to get there.
“We are still hopeful and we're not giving up on it.
“Until someone says no, we'll still be talking about it because we know the need is strong.”
Ms Sturgess said it was impossible to understate how important a hub would be for the Wimmera.
“It's important for children, for women, for men and for communities,” she said.
“It’s particularly important for children, because children who are exposed to trauma grow up and can take that trauma into their adult lives.
“They don't find any other way of managing trauma and conflict, and it creates a cycle if you don't have a role model for how to deal with conflict.
“We know the importance of the Respectful Relationships program run in schools, and we know this work needs to start as young as kindergarten, to get that understanding of gender equity.
“You've got to come at this work from many many fronts. It's not about just about working with perpetrators to change their behaviours. It's about all elements of society and making sure we understand the importance of gender equity.
“The work being done Women's Health Grampians and the CORE alliance by making workplaces safe and free from bullying are also aspects that feed into the change that needs to happen.”
Ms Sturgess said a hub in Horsham would complement other organisations’ work to address family violence.
“Horsham police have put in place a lot better structure for addressing family violence, and we believe a hub located here would support the work that they and others are doing in this area,” she said.
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