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September 22, 2023

State Govt pledges support for flood-affected local women

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Vulnerable local women who are affected by ongoing floods will have access to holistic support to address social, financial, and medical disadvantage, the State Government has promised.

Around $1.5m in grants have been pledged, which will be facilitated through the Northern Rivers Women and Children’s Service (NORWACS).

WORTH staff including an art therapist, nurse, counsellor, and psychologist in front of the outreach van and their premises in Goonellabah. Photo supplied

Support will also be delivered to remote and regional areas across the Northern Rivers through the Women’s Outreach Trauma Health Service (WORTH).

The outreach program will lead a team of qualified support workers from NORWACS and partner organisations who will visit communities to engage with local women and identify their needs, provide services and support community access to other services providers.

The initiative will provide relief through specialised women’s health and wellbeing in flood-affected communities across the Northern Rivers while physical services are rebuilt.

Minister for Regional Health Ryan Park said as a result of recent floods, many services had been physically destroyed, along with housing and transport, impacting access to essential services by vulnerable groups.

‘Social inequalities experienced by women are magnified during and after natural disasters,’ Mr Park said.

‘The Northern Rivers region has experienced one emergency after another. First, it was the pandemic, then it was the floods.

‘For women and children who have been impacted by domestic violence, these are particularly vulnerable times, with families facing economic pressures and possibly homelessness. That is why the work undertaken by the NORWACS emergency outreach program WORTH is so important.’

The rate of domestic violence recorded for the Northern Rivers in the five years to September 2022 increased by 3.5 per cent per year on average, with Tweed Heads recording the highest five-year increase at 6.9 per cent.

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jodie Harrison said domestic and family violence had seen an increase in the years preceding the pandemic and continued to climb across the State.

‘Before the floods, domestic violence recorded the highest increases of crime in Lismore for the preceding five years,’ Minister Harrison said.

‘With research demonstrating gender-based violence towards women increases after natural disasters, without intervention, we fear the Northern Rivers can expect this upward trend to continue.

‘This service will ensure that women, especially those escaping domestic violence, who need access to critical services have access to them, when and where they need it.’

Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin MP said she welcomed the additional funding.

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