The depth of our appalling family violence record was on show this week. Warrnambool-based support provider Emma House marked its 40thanniversary this week at its annual general meeting. The work of so many over the years has made a difference to many in the most vulnerable of times. But never has its AGM heard numbers like those presented this week.
Women and children seeking help from the service has jumped 60 per cent in the first four months of this financial year compared with the July to October period last year. A staggering 882 victims/survivors turned to Emma House.
That number is incomprehensible. That number is 882 too many.
As a community we are more aware than ever of family violence, even though most of us don't see it or hear it because it happens behind closed doors.
Less than 48 hours after the AGM where the depth of the problem was laid bare, a Warrnambool woman was left fighting for life after a serious assault at her unit.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the woman. We will take some solace when the alleged perpetrator is punished to the full extent of the law. But that is not enough.
The messages promoting change need to be ramped up. Education campaigns need to be promoted even more.
In the words of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw 'progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything'.
The state government this week announced $6 million to improve hands-on training for university students in the family violence sector.
That is a good initiative. Service agencies like Emma House are crying out for more trained professionals. As awareness grows, so too does the demand on services.
The funding is for additional student placements, 150 early and mid-career specialists to grow their careers, establishing a graduate program and TAFEs and other training organisations to equip professionals. Will the funding be enough? Will it stretch to regional areas?
We need every bit of help possible.