Women, children denied help as support system struggles

MORE than 60 women and children were turned away from a Ballarat family violence support service last financial year due to funding constraints.

WRISC was able to find other agencies to help 51 of them, but 11 were left without support.

And WRISC executive officer Jacinta Wainwright fears uncertainty over the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness will only make the situation worse.

WRISC provides housing for women and children forced to leave their homes due to family violence by providing private rental brokerage, assisting with housing applications, helping find transitional or public housing, sourcing emergency and crisis accommodation and helping with moving costs.

The four-year National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness began in January 2009 and was expanded for another year last June.

Ms Wainwright said it had since been extended to next June, but stressed a longer term agreement needed to be reached.

“This potential disinvestment in homelessness funding is ludicrous,” she said.

“It’s not good for long-term planning (and) it’s not good for our organisation and our staff.”

She said staff were putting in contingency plans in case the funding was not extended beyond June 30, 2015, which meant the service could potentially lose highly trained workers.

“In rural and regional areas, it’s hard to obtain specialised staff,” she said. “The reality is we’re already overstretched. Demand outstrips resources now.” 

Ms Wainwright said WRISC’s family violence outreach service demand was up 32 per cent in the last financial year, and the list for its women and children counselling program was 75 per cent higher than its funding.

She said they were trying to source private donations to supplement its government funding.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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