Violence victims will have support

Daryna ZadvirnaAlbany Advertiser
Domestic violence - Abuse
Camera IconDomestic violence - Abuse Credit: funky-data/Getty Images

As COVID-19 restrictions escalate the risk of domestic violence, Albany’s Women’s Centre assured it “won’t turn anyone away”, while police are working to secure short-term accommodation for perpetrators issued with temporary restraining orders.

Anglicare WA, WA Police, the Department of Communities, Southern Aboriginal Corporation and the Human Services Forum held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss their response to a rise in family and domestic violence due to COVID-19.

The agencies reported concerns that abusive behaviour could go unreported if victims assume support services, such as Albany Women’s Centre, will be shutting down during the pandemic.

But Anglicare WA’s Jo Fictoor, who manages the centre, said even if it reached capacity, they would not turn anyone away.

“We are currently working with the Department of Communities to source and identify alternative accommodation to safely house and support victims of domestic violence, either in the Great Southern, or another regional town,” she said.

“We have been assured despite the closure of regional borders, domestic violence services are exempt from the travel ban.”

Great Southern police family violence co-ordinator Sergeant Shannon McGeown said the COVID-19 crisis had expedited plans for establishing a perpetrator short-stay accommodation centre.

He said police were working to secure a local facility for perpetrators of family violence that were issued temporary restraining orders.

“This is aimed at reducing the inconvenience and disruption associated with uplifting women and children into refuge accommodation,” he said.

Southern Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Asha Bhat said pandemic restrictions could also lead to more frequent and more severe violence at home for Aboriginal women.

She urged those that needed help to reach out.

“While our office may be closed, the corporation’s Family Violence Prevention Legal Service is still in operation and our lawyers and counsellors are continuing to provide legal assistance, casework and counselling over the phone,” she said.

Anglicare WA has also continued to deliver its domestic violence counselling and intervention programs via telephone or video conferencing.

The Albany Family & Domestic Violence Action Group encouraged people to look out for anyone who might be at increased risk.

The group advised people to keep in touch with neighbours, friends or family members if they held concerns about their safety isolation and encourage them to develop a safety plan.

“In these challenging times, it is very important that friends and family maintain communication with one another,” Sgt McGeown said

“I encourage anyone who is experiencing family violence or is aware that a friend or loved one is being victimised, perpetrating or exposing children to acts of family violence to please contact police.”

If you or anyone you know needs help, in Albany, contact:

Albany Police: 9892 9300

Albany Women’s Centre: 9845 6000

Anglicare WA: 9845 6666

Southern Aboriginal Corporation – Family Violence Prevention Service: 9842 7777

Across WA, contact:

Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 007 339 | Crisis Care: 1800 199 008

Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 000 559 | Lifeline: 13 11 14

In an emergency, call 000 for police

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