Services for victims of domestic violence and homelessness are still open and operating in northern NSW, despite the controversial recent axing of funding for the Tweed Valley Women’s Service (TVWS).
The assurance came from On Track Community Program’s (OTCP) housing and homelessness manager Nerilee Scott who said there was ‘confusion about the service in the area and it is important people understood that help was there if they needed it’.
A refuge, which was previously operated by the TVWS in Tweed Heads and closed before Christmas, has now been re-opened and being operated by OTCP.
The agency also opened another three properties in the area for women and children at risk.
‘These four services are now offering victims help around the clock, which was not the case previously,’ Ms Scott said.
It follows the launch this week by Richmond MP Justine Elliot this week of a petition demanding the coalition restores NSW government funding for the women’s service.
(See our previous story at http://www.echo.net.au/2015/12/closure-of-tweed-domestic-violence-service-sparks-outrage/)
‘The complete inaction by the NSW government over the closure of the Tweed Valley Women’s Service is both shameful and irresponsible,’ Mrs Elliot said.
‘The NSW government, which includes north coast Nationals MPs, has chosen to ignore locals by failing to assist in this desperate situation.
‘We have a domestic violence crisis across this nation and here on the north coast we have Nationals State MPs Geoff Provest and Thomas George who have gone into hiding over the closure of the local women’s service.
‘I condemn both Geoff Provest and Thomas George who are refusing to help the community. They are also refusing to speak to our local media about this issue.
‘As both state members have shown they are unwilling and unable to do the job they were elected to do, I have now launched a petition demanding the NSW government restore funding to the Tweed Valley Women’s Service,’ Mrs Elliot said. (The petition can be obtained from: www.facebook.com/JustineElliotMP)
But Ms Scott claimed there had been a 160 per cent boost to crisis accommodation for women and children from the Tweed to Ballina as a result of the changes.
‘OTCP has also taken over domestic violence services being offered to all women and children in Murwillumbah and homeless indigenous singles and families in Ballina, which were previously managed by the Tweed Valley Women’s Service, those services are also being increased,’ Ms Scott said.
‘Specialist domestic and family violence support is available at the OTCP Wharf Street office in Tweed Heads. Specialist support will soon be available from Murwillumbah five days per week.
‘Aboriginal women and children in the Ballina and Byron shires experiencing domestic and family violence can now visit the OTCP shopfront in Ballina.
‘These services can be accessed through the domestic violence hot lines, or by going to our Ballina office in Tamar Street.
‘Aboriginal domestic violence case managers are now available to talk to.’
Ms Scott said OTCP was focused on raising awareness of the services available to women escaping domestic and family violence.
‘We are a leading provider of homelessness services across northern NSW, including the contract from the NSW government to provide services to women and children who are homeless or at risk of, as a result of domestic and family violence,’ she said.
‘OTCP took the step of cancelling Tweed Valley Women’s Service’s contract to provide domestic violence support services late last year because it found the organisation had breached the state government grant conditions,’ Ms Scott said.
Anyone in immediate danger from domestic violence, should call 000. If you are a woman experiencing domestic or family violence, you can access support by calling 1300 355 305.