THE search for a suitable site to house a refuge for Aboriginal women and children has been hampered by Warrnambool's booming property market.
The planned refuge will provide short-term emergency accommodation for those women experiencing family violence.
Wimmera South West Aboriginal Refuge Partnership chair Ashley Couzens said the purchase of a suitable site had been complicated by the high turnover of properties in coastal Victoria. "It is a vendor's market with rapid turnover and escalating sale prices," he said.
"Working closely within the government timeframes and process requirements has posed significant challenges to secure a suitable site to also meet the Aboriginal community expectations. The Partnership is determined to secure suitable location within the agreed timeframes."
Mr Couzens said the Wimmera South West Aboriginal Refuge Partnership had been working with Family Safety Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services for several years to develop a suitable and culturally sensitive service for the Aboriginal communities in the Wimmera and the south-west.
"Warrnambool and Horsham have been identified at the best locations for these services for victims of family violence and their families to heal and recover safely and securely in their own communities on Country," Mr Couzens said.
"At the most recent meeting with two state government Ministers Gabrielle Williams and Richard Wynne in the middle of this year, it was confirmed that two sites would receive capital infrastructure funding and ongoing service funding.
"The immediate priority is to acquire a suitable site for the development of the Warrnambool facility. The partnership also submitted an operational budget at that time and is awaiting a response from the department."
Membership of the partnership includes local Aboriginal Elders and Traditional owners, representatives of the local Aboriginal Dhelk Dja family Violence Groups and Aboriginal community controlled health and community services organisations.
Between 2019-20 there were 615 incidents of family violence recorded by police in Warrnambool and in the 2018-19 financial year there were 714 incidents of family violence recorded by police.
In November the state government announced a Family Violence Support and Safety Hub, Orange Door, would be established in Warrnambool and it is expected to be up and running within the next 12 months. A state government spokeswoman said they were pushing ahead with their "unprecedented reforms so that home can be a safe place for all Victorians".
- If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, or Warrnambool based not-for-profit service Emma House on 1800 366 238. In an emergency, call 000.
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