The Rotary Club of Ballina-on-Richmond has teamed up with Momentum Collective in Tamar Street to create ten care packs for women and children escaping domestic violence.
Michelle Teece, Community Support Manager with Momentum Collective told Echonetdaily, ‘Common values and purpose have brought us together.’
Local Rotary President Dave Harmon said, ‘With COVID we’ve been limited as a Rotary Club in what we’ve been able to do, but after discussions with Michelle, we’ve put together these care packs which have all the essentials a person may need when they’re fleeing a home due to domestic violence.
‘We’ve put $100 worth of goods in each one, and Momentum Collective are going to add $100 worth of vouchers.
‘Inside there’s all the toiletries; toothpaste, shampoo, soap, books and games for the children, sanitiser, toothbrushes – all the gear that you need for at least a week.’
Mr Harmon explained Momentum Collective is a business partner of the Rotary Club, with the two groups sharing a common interest in dealing with mental health issues and domestic violence.
‘The case worker is often the first responder,’ he said, ‘and Momentum now manage the women’s and children’s refuge, so from Rotary’s viewpoint, we’re able to put this straight into where it’s needed. There’s no middle person. That’s great for us and for Momentum.’
With more women seeking refuge, Ms Teece said Momentum Collective offered an always ‘open door’, close to both the Ballina police station and hospital.
‘Our homelessness clients and domestic violence clients have significantly increased in the past six months due to financial difficulties and pressure in the home,’ she said.
Crisis beyond Ballina
Ms Teece emphasised that the DV situation in Ballina and the north coast was sadly typical across the country. ‘Yes, I think it is extremely challenging at this time for people, and the more we promote organisations like ourselves and Rotary that are partnering, the more we can educate society that these things are happening in our community.’
She said the care packs were part of a ‘first response’ for clients, who might find themselves in the refuge for a few days or much longer, with women and children often leaving home with only the clothes on their backs.
‘There will be fuel vouchers and also food vouchers for Food For Life, down here in Ballina, as well as Big W vouchers,’ said Ms Teece.
‘There are also coffee vouchers for Tastings Coffee and Catering, next door. They’re a good business partner. We have donated $1000 to pay it forward there too, so quite a lot of our clients go there for a nice cup of coffee and a toasted sandwich, just to normalise.’
Ms Teece said people facing domestic violence and homelessness emergencies should contact the 24/7 help line on 1300 355 305.
Momentum Collective’s address is 79 Tamar St Ballina, and they can also be found on the web.
Federal budget fails women fleeing domestic violence
Nationally, the domestic violence issue has also been in the spotlight in recent days with Women’s Legal Services Australia’s plea for a $25m emergency rescue package being ignored in the federal budget.
WLSA say they have been left struggling to help Australian women escape abusive partners, with the federal government failing to meet an ‘overwhelming demand for family violence legal aid and support’.
Recent costings by Jim Stanford of the Centre for Future Work estimated an extra $25 million is needed to ensure the current volume of requests received by WLSA members around Australia.
Joanna Fletcher, CEO of Women’s Legal Service Victoria, said the lack of this assistance will cost thousands of Australian women their health and safety, and increase financial pressure on other sectors including police, courts and social services.
‘We are in an intolerable situation where we are forced to deny help to women, including many in high-risk situations, because we don’t have the staff to help them,’ said Ms Fletcher.
‘The women who come to us for help are often experiencing financial abuse and coercive control as well as physical violence.
‘We know from decades of experience that without intervention, these controlling behaviours can escalate into deadly violence against women and children,’she said.
‘This budget was an opportunity for the Morrison Government to address decades of chronic underspending on life-saving legal services. Now, women have been ignored yet again.’
Ms Fletcher pointed out that the federal budget injected $10.2 million to the Family and Federal Circuit Courts to manage the strain of increasing case volumes and COVID-19, but no new funding was allocated to legal services representing and supporting people in need.
‘Politicians are happy to voice concern that one woman a week dies at the hands of a violent partner or ex-partner in Australia, but evidently there is still no political will to remedy the situation and provide the lifeline these women need to escape their abusers,’ she said.
‘The queues of women in need will only grow, and so will the scourge of violence against women and children that remains our national shame,’ said Ms Fletcher.