Frontline police in the fight against domestic violence in the Hunter have nowhere safe to send victims, with crisis accommodation at capacity.
Central Hunter domestic violence liaison officer Senior Constable Jenny Brown said the crisis accommodation in the region has reached its own crisis point.
“It is desperate,” she said.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of women and children who get turned away.”
Senior Constable Brown said many shelters, such as Carrie’s Place and Jodie’s Place, had been forced to expand their services to help homeless women and their children as well as those fleeing a family violence.
This means less beds for victims of domestic violence.
“There are great services like Carrie’s Place, but they now provide homelessness services [too], which has really taken away the focus from domestic violence,” she said.
“It really needs to be separate because you need specialist workers.
“The needs of these victims are quite high.”
Senior Constable Brown has called for the government to pump more money into domestic and family violence services that can help on the frontline. This would include a specialist unit for the Central Hunter Local Area Command, including a psychologist or councillor who could be on the scene when police attended an incident.
She said these services should flow through to specialised crisis accommodation to help women move forward and make informed choices after the point of crisis.
“The more rural areas have less services which are spread further,” Senior Constable Brown said.
“Yet in rural areas domestic and family violence rates are usually very high.
“With the rate of domestic violence incidents here we need more workers, but it has got to be a whole government services approach.”
‘Why are these women falling through the cracks?’
by KRYSTAL SELLARS
Co-ordinator of refuge Jodie’s Place, Paula Mudd, knows all too well the struggle accommodation providers face on a daily basis.
From not being able to pay their phone bill, to having to turn women away from the refuge, the service is stretched to its limit.
One woman has been living at the refuge for four months because she continues to be knocked back for a rental property.
A steady flow of women and children have stayed at Jodie’s Place since it was opened by
Hunter Domestic Violence Support and Advisory Services in late 2013.
Ms Mudd said the service was in need of a transitional home, to help women create a rental history.
As for the national crisis, Ms Mudd said she was at a loss for a simple answer, and was saddened the situation was worsening.
“What are we doing wrong that we are not helping these women?” she said.
“There are a lot of services out there doing great things. Why are these women falling through the cracks?”