Refuge — ‘it’s time’

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Gizelle Ghidella Con­tin­ued page 3

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.

Pic­ture: GIZELLE GHIDELLA

Sergeant Damian Mead­ows, Dou­glas Shire Mayor Ju­lia Leu and Se­nior Con­sta­ble Mag­gie Mead­ows

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