Staff and supporters of the Lismore Women and Children’s Refuge rallied outside their local MP’s office yesterday, hoping for a stay of execution.
The refuge, which has been providing crisis accommodation for more than 30 years, is in danger of closing because a State government tendering process did not deem a refuge in Lismore a priority.
Greens candidate for Lismore Adam Guise said closure of the refuge would put women and children, ‘into high risk situations and place an impossible burden on police who will be forced to pick up the pieces’.
Mr Guise called on the state government to guarantee funding because the refuge, ‘is an essential service to a region which tragically has escalating rates of violence to women’.
Far North Coast Family Law Practitioners Association spokesperson Aniko Cripps Clark said the Federal Government had slashed $3 million funding from the region.
‘This cost shifting exercise onto the state, has meant there may no longer be funding for the refuge,’ she said.
‘Closing the refuge may see police and family and community services intervene and children removed into care, where women cannot or will not leave violent situations,” Ms Cripps Clark said
About 30 supporters gathered outside Lismore MP Thomas George’s office in Lismore yesterday to voice their disapproval at the funding cuts.
Refuge supporter Punita Boardman told Echonetdaily said ‘I can’t believe this day has come’.
“If this refuge goes there will be no crisis accommodation in Lismore, so women will have to travel away from the area,’ she said.
She said the Richmond electorate had the second highest rate of domestic violence in the state, and the refuge catered for up to 20 women and children a night.
The refuge may close as early as the end of the month after the NSW Government pulled funding from women’s crisis accommodation in Lismore in a new tender process.
Mr Guise said the refuge must be saved.
‘Our local members Thomas George and Kevin Hogan must step in and fix this. It will be a damning indictment of the Nationals, if the Refuge closes,’ he said.