Domestic violence services struggle as demand spikes

WOMEN'S Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services on the North Coast have noticed a steep rise in police referrals, with a 45% increase across the state in just one month.

Since July, police have been required to refer every domestic violence report to the Legal Aid-run service.

The program helps women initiate apprehended domestic violence orders, supports them through the court process and aids them in securing counselling, safe housing and financial support.

Referrals increased from 5794 women in July to 8424 in August across NSW.

Program manager Michelle Jones said services in the state's north had experienced the surge.

The North Coast service covering Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Bellingen and Macksville courts, received 544 referrals in July and August.

There were 278 referrals over the same period to the North Coast service, covering courts in Lismore, Casino, Kyogle, Murwillumbah and Ballina.

"The change in referral process has increased the number of women getting help and support from the WDVCASes in some parts of NSW, including the Northern Rivers region," Ms Jones said.

The last state budget included $33 million for the program but its overall funding level has not changed since 2009, despite the recent upsurge in its workload.

 

TIME FOR CHANGE

Domestic violence reports are rising sharply across NSW's 154 local government areas.

Bourke in the state's north-west had the worst per-capita figures in 2014 with 4721 domestic assaults per 100,000 population.

But the North and Mid North Coasts had far too much violence as well.

Here's how they rated compared to other council areas:

18th: Kempsey - 809.6 per 100,000

24th: Coffs Harbour - 24th - 671.4 per 100,000

38th: Nambucca - 38th - 539.3 per 100,000

46th: Lismore - 46th - 508.6 per 100,000

49th: Richmond Valley - 49th - 500.4 per 100,000

67th: Tweed - 67th - 407.9 per 100,000

69th: Clarence Valley - 69th - 401.9 per 100,000

81st: Byron - 81st - 336.2 per 100,000

87th: Kyogle - 87th - 314.8 per 100,000

98th: Ballina - 98th - 271.3 per 100,000

115th: Bellingen - 115th - 119.5 per 100,000


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