Claudia Baxter

Suicide fears for violence victims who flee to motels

IT'S just a matter of time before a domestic violence victim who is forced to seek refuge in a motel room kills herself.

Frontline workers such as Toni Meyer are becoming increasingly concerned about the fragile mental health of women who are holed up in motels because their homes are not safe and there is no specialist emergency accommodation available for them.

In Queensland, DVConnect sends at least 33 women a day to motels and in the NSW Government spent about $14 million in 12 months on housing people in crisis in motels and caravan parks.

Ms Meyer, a DVConnect clinical manager, said being confined to a strange room with little or no outside contact could be soul-destroying.

"Last week we had two young women who were feeling that they couldn't go on," Ms Meyer said.

"It's not unusual for us to have women feeling that way.

"Being in the isolation of the motel and the uncertainty of leaving their home, feeling extremely fearful and not being able to go somewhere to get face to face support - it wears women down.

"No woman copes well in that situation."

READ MORE: Airbnb-style accomm idea for domestic violence victims

From next week, a DVConnect outreach worker will visit motel-bound victims.

Domestic Violence NSW chief executive officer Moo Baulch said motel rooms were no replacement for specialised housing offering trauma support.

"Ideally we would want the system to respond to women and children who are impacted by DV to provide trauma specialist responses," Ms Baulch said.

Homelessness Australia chief executive officer Glenda Stevens said if the Federal Government committed $33 million today to refuges the need for motels could be wiped out.

"The fundamental health of a victim is paramount and a lot of women are in very precarious mental health positions when they leave the violence," Ms Stevens said.

"This is about having more money for permanent solutions so that women who leave a violent situation have a viable long-term place to go and that they have support while they are re-adjusting.

"We need $33 million from the Federal Government now just to pay for the crisis accommodation."

Queensland Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman on Tuesday said the state's two new 72-hour refuges would open soon.

She said the government would re-address funding options once it had a chance to consider a statewide audit into domestic and family violence services next month.

Federal Minister for Women Michaelia Cash said the government was committed to funding resources to help vulnerable women.

"The Australian Government is committed to ending the scourge of domestic and family violence and sexual assault affecting all communities," Ms Cash said.

"In the 2015-16 Budget, $230 million was announced to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness for two years to 2017."

"Priority funding is given to support frontline services for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence and young people and children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness."

"In addition, $1.3 billion each year is provided to states and territories under the National Affordable Housing Agreement including to assist people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness achieve sustainable housing."

NSW Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward did not responded to APN Newsdesk's request for comment.

*For support, call Qld's DVConnect on 1800 811 811, Men's Line on 1800 600 636, NSW DV Line on 1800 656 463,  1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or   Lifeline on 13 11 14.

- APN NEWSDESK



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