20 January 2016
Women’s Health West has seen a 30 per cent increase in family violence referrals from Victoria Police during July to December 2015. This trend looks set to continue in Melbourne’s west in 2016, sparking renewed calls for funding for response and violence prevention initiatives.
In the first week of January alone, Women’s Health West received over 250 referrals from Victoria Police. According to Women’s Health West CEO, Dr Robyn Gregory, the family violence team anticipate 1000 referrals from Victoria Police in Melbourne’s west by the end of the month.
“These are record-breaking numbers”, Dr Gregory said. “We applaud and encourage women to stand up against family violence. At the same time, we struggle to meet the demand generated by police referrals.”
“Two years ago, Women’s Health West received an average of 517 referrals per month. Now we are seeing nearly twice that number. It is a tragic reality and reminder about the prevalence of family violence in our community and the need for funds to respond to service demand. It also demonstrates how important it is to allocate funds to prevent family violence before it occurs.”
Women’s Health West leads a regional strategy for the prevention of violence against women in partnership with local councils, community health services and others in the western region.
Funds for a key project in the Preventing Violence Together strategy ended in 2015 and the focus is now on the outcomes of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, in the hope that the key role of women’s health services will be recognised and funds made available to continue this innovative work.
Funds for additional crisis response workers available as a result of the royal commission also end in June 2016, creating uncertainty about how Women’s Health West will continue to meet service demand. The commission findings have been delayed for a month at the request of the commissioners.
“Until we all start paying attention to family violence and realise our role in preventing violence against women, nothing is going to change, incidents of family violence will continue to rise,” Dr Gregory said.
For more information on Women’s Health West services and programs go to www.whwest.org.au or call 9689 9588.
Christine Crosby, Women’s Health West: email firstname.lastname@example.org phone 9689 9588