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Storm over council bid for domestic violence service: help already available

Domestic violence service providers have hit out at a Campbelltown Council decision to “investigate the opportunity of facilitating the establishment of a women’s domestic violence service’’.

They say that there are plenty of such services across Macarthur, including for women who have recently arrived in the country.

In a letter sent to all the councillors and obtained by the South West Voice in Macarthur, Tanya Whitehouse, the coordinator of Macarthur Women’s Domestic Violence Court advocacy service refutes suggestions made at Tuesday night’s council meeting when the notice of motion tabled by Labor’s Cr Margaret Chivers was debated.

“There are a significant amount of services that provide support specifically around domestic violence in Campbelltown,’’ Ms Whitehouse wrote.

“These services all attend the Campbelltown Domestic Violence Committee.

“It is actually offensive to read that there is a statement of no support for domestic violence service provision.

“The service I manage has been funded for 26 years – and is a DV specialist service,’’ Ms Whitehouse said in the letter to the councillors.

Cr Chivers on Tuesday night told council that Campbelltown had one of the highest levels of domestic violence in the state and needed more support for women and children caught up in it.

Her three part notice of motion, stated:

1.  That council investigate the opportunity of facilitating the establishment of a women’s domestic violence service, including the region’s growing multicultural community, in partnership with interested corporate partners and relevant service providers.
2.  That a report be provide detailing the outcomes of the investigations including potential corporate and service provision partners, advise relevant Government bodies, project feasibility, location options, service delivery models and funding and strategies.
3.  That consideration be given to holding a domestic violence forum.

In her letter to councillors, Ms Whitehead lists some of the services available to local victims of domestic violence.

“Just in naming services that I work collaboratively with for women and children impacted by Domestic Violence in Campbelltown there is:
  “Benevolent Society Centre for Women’s & Children’s Health, WILMA Women’s Health Centre, St Vincent de Paul Case Management, BaptistCare (both the refuge and also the separate service in Campbelltown), Staying Home Leaving Violence, Macarthur Gateway, Tharawal Aboriginal Health Service, Macarthur Diversity Services Initiative, Macarthur Disability Service to name a few,’’ she says.

“There is also the Safety Action Meetings held fortnightly at Campbelltown Police Station for women assessed at serious threat under the Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool.

“This is attended by managers in government and non-government service providers specific to Domestic Violence. This initiative is a direct result of the Safer Pathway program implemented by the NSW Government.

“This program is a clear example of effective collaborative partnerships specifically targeted at high risk women in domestic violence. This program runs in Campbelltown,’’ Ms Whitehead said.

In the letter she also addressed suggestions at the council meeting that there were insufficient services women with little or no grasp of English who were victims of domestic violence.

“There are a number of service providers that can assist women from a multicultural background including Macarthur Diversity Services Initiative Service who are based in Campbelltown and have been established since 1983,’’ Sm Whitehead said in her letter.

“From my own service perspective I have a multicultural specialist worker, whose core role is working with multicultural women with issues of domestic violence.’’

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