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Domestic Violence Peak Body Dismayed at New Anti-Violence Campaign

WESNET Media Release

1 June 2004

“This Commonwealth Government just doesnt get it. It goes from bad to worse” said Maria Hagias, National Chair of WESNET the national peak body working on behalf of women and children who experience domestic and family violence. “WESNET is dismayed that the Commonwealth Governments planned media campaign to address domestic violence is now a watered down version of its original hard hitting message which in its original form was potentially internationally ground breaking” said Ms Hagias.

 

According to Ms Hagias “The Commonwealth Government has, during the development of this campaign, ignored and bypassed the knowledge and expertise which already exists in the domestic and family violence sector, and has scandalously wasted millions of dollars in cancellation fees and campaign materials that are no longer being used all whilst women and children are being turned away on a daily basis from Womens Refuges because they are full. These women are then placed in motels awaiting vacancies.

 

“The campaign has ignored the different forms of domestic violence that affect women and children.” Ms Pauline Woodbridge who is a member of the WESNET National Committee says, “Experts working in the domestic violence sector know that domestic violence can come in many forms such as verbal, cultural, financial or emotional abuse and physical or sexual violence may or may not be present. If we are to prevent or intervene into relationships where domestic violence is present we must recognise these indicators.

“The creation of a new 24 hour helpline for 12 months will also be established to support the campaign, is another example of the government just not having a clue,” said Ms Woodbridge. “This will bypass a well established and existing service systems which operate in each State and Territory, creating not only an unnecessary duplication but confusion for services and women and children seeking help,” said Ms Hagias. According to Ms Woodbridge “this waste of money could instead be redirected to existing services that have the knowledge, expertise and infrastructure to provide the services. The role of the proposed national Helpline which is to provide services to victims, perpetrators and couples with relationship issues confirms that this government is not up to speed on the real nature of domestic violence. That is that it is fundamentally about abuse in a relationship of unequal power and control” said Ms Woodbridge.

According to Ms Woodbridge “the proposed allocation of $100 per referral from the helpline wouldnt even cover the cost of a motel or workers time and without consultation with the domestic violence sector through WESNET about how much will be required because of increased demand arising from the advertisements, the figure is an insult and probably election pork-barrelling. Who do they anticipate will get the $100? There has been no thought put into this.”

“Ultimately women and children facing violence continue to be victims not only within the context of their family but also by the system that should protect them” said Ms Hagias.

 

Established in 1992, WESNET has almost 400 member services across Australia. More than 300 of these are womens refuges in locations ranging from busy metropolitan areas to isolated remote communities in central and northern Australia. WESNET works to ensure all women and children live free of domestic and family violence and its consequences.

For comment please call:

Maria Hagias, National Chairperson of WESNET on 08 8365 5033

Pauline Woodbridge, Queensland Delegate on 07 4721 2888

ABN 16 068 548 631