Palaszczuk Government helping women and children live safer lives

Published Monday, 19 September, 2016 at 08:01 AM

Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

More women are feeling safe to come forward and ask for help as a result of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to tackling domestic and family violence.

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman said the issue had been brought out from behind closed doors, 12 months on from the government’s response to the landmark Not Now, Not Ever report.

“We are seeing more women reporting domestic violence offences, more DVOs and more DVO breach offences in Queensland,” Ms Fentiman said.

“It makes sense that in this climate where we are talking more openly as a community about domestic and family violence, that we are also seeing more women seeking emergency accommodation to flee that violence.”

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said community safety was the top priority of the Queensland Police Service.

“This conversation we are having – about the need for awareness and saying “Not Now, Not Ever” to domestic and family violence – is encouraging more women to come forward and ask for help. That can only be a good thing,” he said.

“I encourage anyone who is subjected to domestic violence to report it to police immediately so action can be taken.

“Domestic and family violence will not be tolerated in our community.”

Ms Fentiman said around 900 women and children fleeing violence and abuse in their homes have been taken in and given a helping hand by the Palaszczuk Government’s new domestic and family violence shelters in Brisbane and Townsville.

She said DV Connect provided 9000 nights of motel accommodation to women and children fleeing domestic and family violence in Queensland in 2015-16.

That’s an increase from 3624 nights provided in 2014-15 and 2318 nights provided in 2013-14, she said.

“We know we have a crisis in Queensland when it comes to domestic and family violence and this just demonstrates the sheer number of women and children who are experiencing terror at home,” Ms Fentiman said.

“Tackling domestic and family violence is one of the Palaszczuk Government’s highest priorities and we are committed to ensuring support is available to victims fleeing violence.

“We know that having somewhere safe and supportive to go can make all the difference to women wanting to leave a dangerous and violent situation.

“That’s why we took swift action to get two new 72-hour crisis shelters up and running in Queensland – one in Brisbane and one in Townsville – by the end of last year.

“Together these services – the first government-funded shelters in 20 years in Queensland – have helped 900 women and children escaping domestic and family violence.

“New shelters at Charters Towers and Roma have also been announced as part of our response to the Not Now, Not Ever report.”

Ms Fentiman said there continued to be strong demand for emergency accommodation and for assistance, with DV Connect Womensline taking more than 4000 calls a month from Queensland women fleeing or experiencing violence.

“Crisis support includes immediate assistance for women and children who need to get to a place of safety, such as a women’s refuge, police station, or temporary placement in a motel,” Ms Fentiman said.

“There are many reasons why women and children are placed in temporary motel accommodation when refuge beds are not available or suitable, including the time of night they are fleeing violence or where they are travelling interstate or to another place of safety, such as with family and friends.

“Along with crisis shelters, the Palaszczuk Government is investing in critical mobile support and outreach services which provide specialist care management support to ensure the immediate safety and needs of women and children temporarily placed in hotels.

“This means women have greater choice in choosing the most appropriate accommodation option for them and means domestic violence services can work directly with them to determine their needs and plan their next step.”

More than 1000 women have been assisted by the Brisbane-based Safer Lives program that supports women who spend time in motels or hotels until they move to other accommodation. A similar service provides support for women fleeing violence in Townsville.

“We are looking at ways to ensure outreach services are available to all women fleeing domestic and family violence in Queensland and are considering whether we can roll out similar programs across the state,” Ms Fentiman said.

“We are trying to address the culture of violence with the roll-out of respectful relationships in schools to change attitudes, increased funding for support services and delivered the first specialist domestic violence court.”

The Palaszczuk Government invested a record almost $200 million in domestic and family violence services in the 2016-17 State Budget.

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