Passionate voices fighting DV
A PASSIONATE discussion at a domestic violence forum in Banora Point this week made one thing clear: the Tweed is united in a desire to address the problem.
Almost 60 support workers and community members gathered at Banora Point Community Centre on Thursday night for the forum, organised by Tweed MP Geoff Provest and hosted by Catherine Cusack MLC.
NSW Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward was on the seven-strong panel.
Ms Goward said while there was still work to be done in tackling domestic violence, she was heartened by the Tweed’s passion for the issue and the success of the Safer Pathways program, which had been successfully implemented in six regions across the state, including the Tweed.
“It’s fantastic,” Ms Goward said. “What it tells me is just how engaged Tweed is. I’m incredibly impressed.”
She said it was crucial to continue to make offenders more accountable, as well as supporting victims.
There was tension in the room as Tweed Valley Women’s Service supporters questioned the ongoing support for domestic violence victims after the group’s funding was retracted by On Track Community Programs.
OTCP chief executive officer Elaine De Vos, who was a panel member, said the group was working on making Murwillumbah’s drop-in service a five-day operation.
There were concerns in the crowd about locating this service at Murwillumbah Community Centre, but MsDe Vos said it was a matter she would discuss further with other service providers.
“Safety and comfort of our clients are of paramount importance to us,” she said.
When asked why DV funding had been moved to the homelessness sector, Ms Goward said while this was a question for Family and Community Services Minister Brad Hazzard, her key concern was victims were being helped, however the funds were organised.
“My understanding is that there’s a lot more money in the homelessness sector,” Ms Goward said.
“It’s gone from about $135 million to over $180m.”
As a result she said the turn-away rate from shelters had plummeted from 67% to 35%.
A FACS spokeswoman said the department was working on $500,000 in DV funding for women in crisis.
She said a tender panel was also finalising details of a Staying Home, Leaving Violence program.
“It’s an option for women to stay in the home, with work on getting the perpetrator out and keeping the woman safe in her home,” she said.
One community member asked how DV prevention was realised in schools.
“We’re the only state in Australia with compulsory domestic violence education,” Ms Goward said.
Tweed/Byron LAC Superintendent Wayne Starling thanked the State Government for increased powers for police officers, including police-issued apprehended violence orders and video recording for DV incidents, which had led to higher conviction rates.
“It’s really good to see men recognise that domestic violence is a problem and we need to address it as a community,” he said.
“Our premier described domestic violence as a plague that has to be eradicated – and that’s what it is.”