More money sought to combat family violence

MORE funding is needed to respond to family violence in Wellington Shire, according to local expert.

It has led to Wellington Shire Council recently voting to advocate to the state government for more resources for support services and police to respond to the needs of women and children affected by family violence.

Family violence regional integration co-ordinator Kerry Hamer, based at Gippsland Women’s Health Service, said while better education around family violence and better systems to deal with it were required, organisations were severely underfunded.

“Their targets that they’re funded for basically are at such a low level to how they’re responding,” she said.

“Quantum has serviced for all of Wellington and Latrobe areas 2044 responses in the last financial year. They’re actually funded 0.8 EFT, so one person for four days a week to service all that intake.

“Every intake that comes in on an L17, which is the police family violence incident form, means that services have to follow-up that woman and that child.

“The men’s services who also get an L17 have very limited funding. They’re funded for a 120 target across the three regions; they’ve actually actioned 1255.

“It gives you a sense of how those services are actually working on the funding they’re receiving and the numbers that are coming in.”

Ms Hamer said UnitingCare only received enough funding to provide counselling for women and children affected by family violence for one day a week.

“For all the people that need counselling, particularly the women and children, after a family violence event or for trauma that may have happened 20 years ago … for this area you are funded for one day,” she said.

“It is very important that you have counsellors who understand family violence and understand the cause of family violence, which is basically power and control, so they can deal with it from that aspect.

“Otherwise you can traumatise the women and children further.”

The need for more funding is supported by Victoria Police statistics.

Reported family violence in Wellington Shire has increased by 248 per cent over the past five years.

Between April 2012 and April 2013, there were 636 reported family violence incidents in Wellington. Children were present at about half of those incidents.

For Victorian women aged 15 to 44, intimate partner violence is the leading cause of illness, death and disability.

It is a greater contributor to the burden of disease than physical inactivity, unhealthy body weight, drug and alcohol-related harm and tobacco use.

Council will advocate the state government for more money for intake services, counselling services and men’s behaviour change programs in Wellington Shire.

Council will also push for a pilot ‘B Safe’ program, a personal alarm system and risk management program for people escaping family violence.

Mayor Scott Rossetti said one in three women would experience intimate partner violence during their lifetime.

“Clearly there is a need for the state government to step up to the plate and provide more funding,” he said.