Wendy Sturgess.WIMMERA Uniting Care will continue to push its case for more crisis housing in the region.
Agency chief executive Wendy Sturgess said the Wimmera needed more housingsuitable for women and children fleeing domestic violence.
She said this year alone, about 130 clients who had accessedWimmera Uniting Care’s housing, family and child-first servicesreported family violence as an issue for them and their family.
Victoria PoliceLaw Enforcement Assistance Program data shows the Wimmera division –which includes Horsham, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, Ararat, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack municipalities –recorded 491 family incidents in 2009-10.
The number of incidents has increased every year since.In 2010-11, there were 526 family incident reports and836 in 2011-12.
The figures rose to 887 in 2012-13, and 1010 in 2013-14.
Ms Sturgess said Wimmera Uniting Carewas strongly advocating for family violence hubs in the region.
TheRoyal Commission into Family Violence report released in Marchrecommended 17 safety hubs across Victoria to help people fleeing family violence.
It also recommended a ‘housing blitz’, wherewomen and children who had left their homes and were stuck in short-term accommodationwould beimmediatelyrehoused.
Ms Sturgess said it was critical hubs were built in the Wimmera, along with more housing.
“The hubs would support client services, child protection and a range of things,” she said.
“We need all that support in one location.
“We also need greater stocks of crisis housing suitable for women and children.
“We understand the blitz the commission recommended, and we are advocating to ensure we don’t get forgotten, being in a rural area.
“In the Wimmera, there aren’t enough places for people to flee to safety, so some stay in violent homes.”
Ms Sturgess said the agency was fielding an increasing number of requests for help.
“Theawareness of family violence rises every time we talk about it, and the rate of inquiry goes up, andpeople seek help in larger numbers,” she said.
“In the past peoplemight have thought ‘that’s just what happens’.
“Now more and more people are speaking up about family violence and saying ‘this isn’t acceptable’, so more people seek help.”
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