Safety hub for violence escape

Women and children experiencing family violence will be able to easily access the support and safety they need through a Ballarat support and safety hub.

Local family violence workers have praised the state government's extensive 10 year plan to end family violence which ensures the delivery of the 227 recommendations from Australia’s first Royal Commision into Family Violence.

The plan outlines the investment if a further $218 million into social housing and private rental assistance, the recruitment of specialist family violence workers, changes to the court system, specialist police training and the initiation of a primary prevention strategy to stop family violence from occurring.

Child and Family Services acting program manager for family violence, housing, men and family relations Toni Gillett said the plan highlighted the government’s “really strong commitment” to ending family violence.

“(The plan) covers everything – right from state government level to implementing it on the ground,” Ms Gillett said.

Ms Gillett said the safety hubs would give women and children far greater choice in the services they could could access.

“It will also mean they only have to tell their story once, which will absolutely reduce their trauma. Every time they tell their story they (women and children) are often re-traumatised,” Ms Gillett said.

The hubs would also allow from greater agency collaboration, she said.

Family Violence Intervention Orders will be altered,  permitting the use of video and audio recorded evidence in some proceeding. Berry Street manger of family violence and support Denise Sheridan said a change that allowed children to apply for intervention orders would give children a voice.

“It’s about empowering them so they can have a voice around their future,” Ms Sheridan said. 

She said the need for services was continuing to skyrocket, with the centre receiving more than double the police referrals per month in 2016 than the year prior.

She said the hubs would help to streamline the referral process, but she said agencies were yet to know the hub model. 

“We are hoping the hub result result in victims not having to re-tell their story,” Ms Sheridan said. 

Berry Street manger of family violence and support Denise Sheridan

Berry Street manger of family violence and support Denise Sheridan

“It’s (currently) quite complex to navigate your way around the service system.”