New Emerald service to support sexual violence victims

People who’ve experienced sexual violence will have more support with the opening of a new service operating in Emerald and the surrounding Central Highlands region.

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Di Farmer announced today that the Women’s Health Information and Referral Service Central Queensland (WHIRSCQ) would receive more than $920,000 over five years to operate the Emerald Sexual Violence Support Service.

“The statistics around sexual violence are confronting, with 1 in 5 women over the age of 15 and 1 in 20 men experiencing sexual violence,” she said.

“That means that everyone knows someone, probably more than one person who’s been affected.

“This new service is based in Emerald, and it will provide counselling and support to people who have experienced sexual violence, including historical sexual abuse.

“For people who don’t live in Emerald or can’t get there, it will also operate an outreach service to the Central Highlands.

“The service will also work with the police, health services, and the justice system to make sure people can access the support and services they need.”

Ms Farmer said the Women’s Health Information and Referral Service was very experienced in providing support and counselling to people who had experienced sexual violence, as they also deliver a similar service in Rockhampton.

“WHIRSCQ have already been working in Emerald, running a trial service for a period last year,” she said.

“Based on that success and the demonstrated need for the service, I’m confident this service will be a really important support to many people in the region,” she said.

WHIRSCQ manager Belinda Lindel said the organisation was looking forward to providing the vital service in Emerald and the rest of the Central Highland region.

“Prior to our trial service last year, the area with a population of more than 30,000 people had no sexual violence support service,” Ms Lindel said.

“We welcome the funding which will enable us to bring a range of supports to the area including counselling, providing information, and referral and outreach services.

Chairperson of the WHC Board of Directors, Kate Moore said they brought a wealth of experience to the Emerald service having been operating in the Central Queensland region since 1991.

“Our organisation is well placed to deliver a highly specialized trauma-informed service through our qualified staff who have vast experience in the field of sexual assault and support,” Ms Moore said.

Ms Farmer said the Emerald Sexual Support Service showed the government’s commitment to providing vital services to the people of regional Queensland.

“The devastating impact of sexual violence cannot be overstated and it is important that those affected by it are able to seek the specialist care the services like the one to be based in Emerald bring,” she said.

The service is expected to be operational from early September 2019.

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