Today, as political candidates across NSW made their final pledges before the public go to the polls,women’s safety services – called WDVCASs – supported around 530 women and 460 accompanying children impacted by domestic and family violence.
These women and their children came from all walks of life in a variety of cultural and socio-economic circumstances, and yet commonly experienced a number of violent and abusive behaviours perpetrated upon them – including physical, emotional, verbal, psychological, sexual, financial and/or cultural abuse. In most cases the threat is from their very own partner or ex-partner, or in the case of children, their father.
After the police are called to a violent incident in NSW, WDVCASs are automatically contacted to offer women information, support, resources, safety planning, court advocacy and referrals to legal and other support services for themselves and their children. They also coordinate an integrated model of safety planning with key frontline agencies for women and children assessed at being at serious threat of death or injury.
This model – called Safer Pathway – has just been independently evaluated and found to be ‘delivering a consistent, effective and timely response to victims of domestic violence across NSW.’ And importantly, for the women and their children accessing the service, the support provided by WDVCAS workers has been described as “compassionate, non-judgmental and trauma-informed.”
WDVCAS NSW Director, Hayley Foster, is concerned, however, that WDVCAS workers are being asked to do more with less to support them in their essential, sometimes life-saving work. “The reality is, funding has not matched the workload and we’ve seen this with just a 25% increase in funding to support the implementation of the reforms over these past four years whilst client numbers havedoubled in this same period.”