Refuge — ‘it’s time’
THE Douglas Shire community are urgently calling on the State and Federal government for support for a much needed domestic violence refuge.
The Shire has the second highest rate of reported domestic violence and family violence in Queensland, but there’s no crisis or transitional accommodation options to assist victims of domestic violence and their families.
Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said the “the time has come” for the Shire to have a domestic violence refuge.
“Women and their children who are escaping domestic violence have nowhere to go,” she said.
“Our community services organisations can sometimes place those families in hotels but the only other option is to go to Cairns where demand already exceeds supply.
“They have to leave their jobs, leave their homes, the children have to leave their schools, it’s totally unacceptable. People really need to be able to feel safe in their own community,” Mayor Leu said.
Officer in charge at Port Douglas Police station, Sergeant Damian Meadows, said the refuge will provide victims of domestic violence with a safe haven. “When they first leave a domestic situation or a separation that’s when the victim of domestic violence is at greatest risk.”
“We feel that communities are getting more and more comfortable with reporting offences to police which is the first step in us being able to deal with the situation,” he said.
“We’re starting to interact a lot more with the perpetrators in an attempt to stop the cycle that is domestic violence.
“We need to re-educate them, realign them and get them to stop domestic violence. This refuge will go a long way to breaking the cycle.
“The repetitiveness of domestic violence and the breaching of DV orders have increased, which is a concern for police,” Sgt Meadows said.
Council has supported an extensive report which outlines evidence of a need for the refuge and planning recommendations.
The mayor said the shire had been trying to get government help to establish a refuge for at least the past 25 years.
Mayor Leu aims to bring the plan forward to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk when the State government meet in Cairns on July 10.
Mossman Support Services said a refuge for victims of domestic violence would be very valuable to the community.
Community connect counsellor Shelly Richards said: “It’ll be fantastic for the community”. While domestic violence is a prevalent issue in the community, another major issue is affordable housing according to Mossman Support Services.
“They (the Government) need to spend more money on housing in this area, it’s one of the biggest problems we have,” Ms Richards said.
Community Development officer Jill Bradley said overcrowding within houses can cause issues.
“We know of some cases where two or three generations are living in a small space which then causes other issues,” she said.
Sergeant Damian Meadows, Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu and Senior Constable Maggie Meadows