FAMILIES needing crisis support in the Wimmera will soon have access to the same service as other regional Victorian cities.
The state government has announced a lease agreement has been signed to build an Orange Door facility in Horsham.
In a statement, Prevention of Family Violence Minister Gabrielle Williams said the centre would open in 2021, along with sites in Bendigo, Warrnambool and Melbourne.
"We know the need for crisis support has increased during the pandemic - which is why we (are) pushing ahead with reforms, including this next step in the expansion of our Orange Door Network," she said.
Dimboola mother Simone O'Brien is one local that has advocated for the free service, in which experienced workers make plans to keep adults, children and young people safe.
"I'm very excited: We need it, especially now there is a pandemic," she said.
"Violence mainly happens to women, and with COVID-19, women have got nowhere to go. Schools are another safe place for kids, but having this there as well now will give women a place to go.
"I knew nothing about it before it happened to me, so I didn't know where to go to get out of the relationship.
"Having Orange Door in place would have helped, because it is a place where women can go and talk to someone and get the help they need to separate."
Ms O'Brien moved her children to Brisbane for several years before returning to Horsham. She said she had received a lot of support from the community when returning in the Wimmera.
She urged residents to continue not to be afraid of speaking about violence. "If we don't start referencing people, no change is going to happen," she said.
A spokeswoman said the 2020-2024 Council plan advocated for a "Family violence support and safety hub in Horsham".
The network brings together specialist workers from family violence, child and family, Aboriginal and Mens' Services to deliver risk assessment, crisis assistance and links to ongoing support services.
Facilities are already operating in seven regions across Victoria.
The latest Crime Statistics Agency of Victoria report shows there were 550 family violence incidents in Horsham in the 12 months to June, up 19.8 per cent compared to the previous 12 month period.
There have also been double digit increases in the Ararat and Yarriambiack council areas over the same timeframe.
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