Calls to fund crisis program for women at risk of abuse

TWO leaders against domestic and sexual violence in the south-west have called on the state government to fund a crisis program for women at risk of abuse. 

Up to $4.5 million was announced in the state budget this year to fund programs for women in high-risk cases of domestic violence. 

“We hope we’re one of the regions that gets a RAMP program, which is known as a Risk Management Assessment Program,” Emma House manager Pat McLaren said. 

“It’s been rolled out across the state.

“The money was announced in the budget but they haven’t determined which regions it will go to. We’re hoping the south-west will be one of the regions.” 

Under the program, agencies looking after a woman work more closely together and are more accountable. 

“It may happen informally at the moment. The risk issue isn’t always well understood,” South Western Centre Against Sexual Assault co-ordinator Mary Clapham said. 

“When it comes together you’ve got a woman and a family with a much greater sense of security.” 

Both the government and the opposition have released domestic violence policies before the November 9 election, with Labor also promising to deliver the country’s first royal commission into family violence if it wins office. 

“I think it’s a really good idea,” Ms McLaren said. “It will shine a light on domestic violence in this state. 

“Hopefully some policies around strategic plans for addressing how we as a state deal with domestic violence in prevention and at the other end in how it’s dealt with.” 

Ms Clapham said the royal commission into child abuse had been successful and paved the way for policies and discussion. She said pressure to keep domestic violence hidden still existed. 

“That’s shifted a little recently, but a royal commission would really state it for what it is and it would illustrate the cost to the community,” Ms Clapham said. 

Another Labor recommendation to install security cameras at the homes of women protected by intervention orders also received support from south-west leaders. 

“I think its a good idea if it is to be funded, if there was funding for women to avail themselves of that,” Ms McLaren said. “But it needs a lot of investigation of where the CCTV would go. 

“In principle it’s a good idea because so often the men will go to the properties and be gone by the time the police get there. Then there’s no evidence. It’s her word against his.”

Ms McLaren is doubtful of another suggestion from the Victorian Police Association to electronically tag domestic violence offenders.

“It’s not been so successful in other parts of the world where it’s been introduced,”she said. 

Anyone experiencing family violence should call triple-0, contact the 24-hour women’s domestic violence crisis service on 1800 015 188 or Emma House on 5561 1934.

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