Women’s refuge headed to Gippsland

A family violence support service in the Latrobe Valley is experiencing a change to the way government is working and consulting with the sector.

Last week Quantum Support Services general manager of children, youth and families Cindy Pullar welcomed the announcement of a new refuge that will be built in the Gippsland region.

Women and children escaping family violence will receive round-the-clock support and high security accommodation at the refuge, hoped to be opened by the end of next year.

The Gippsland refuge will be one of four in the state to be redeveloped into a new core and cluster model.

Quantum has received extra funding to employ more workers.

“One thing we’re finding is it’s (government support is) coming quickly and it’s not reactive,” Ms Pullar said.

The State Government continues to implement 227 recommendations that were tabled in Parliament in March, as part of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Ms Pullar said there had been more consultation between government and the family violence sector, with decisions informed by the very people accessing support.

She said women who have accessed Gippsland’s existing refuge have said it did not work for them, as the facility’s bathrooms, kitchens and living areas were communal.

“The only space they have that’s their own is their bedroom, which is not a big space and can be quite isolating,” Ms Pullar said.

The ‘core and cluster’ model will consist of independent units and a 24/7 support facility, with the aim to give women and children more privacy, independence and access to help.

In a media release, Quantum chief executive Alan Wilson said the process of securing land, developing plans and building the refuge could now begin.

He said this would create short-term jobs during the construction phase, and additional support workers would be needed to operate the refuge.

Quantum has already received funding to employ eight additional family violence workers based in Warragul, Morwell and Sale.

Further to that, the organisation has been funded to employ two family violence specialist workers – one to be based in Morwell and the other in Bairnsdale.

Each year, the organisation receives more than 4000 referrals for family violence support from both the police and the public.

Ms Pullar urged the community to redirect its focus away from asking why women return and don’t leave.

“What the community and people need to start asking themselves is how does she leave and how does she not return? That’s more useful than the why,” Ms Pullar said.

“How does she not return? This refuge model is part of the how.

“We can put the supports in and not have her isolated in this highly vulnerable period of time, and that’s going to be the difference.”

For more information, phone Quantum Support Services on 5120 2000.

For women and children who have experienced or are experiencing violence and are seeking support, phone Quantum on 5120 2000 or Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 for advice and assistance.

Men can contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or 1800 737 732.

If you are at immediate risk, phone the police on triple zero (000).