Australian of the year Rosie Batty said domestic violence needs to be seen as something akin to terrorism.
While other children are learning their ABCs, these kids are practising calling the police.
They’ve left their homes sometimes with little more than the clothes on their back.
Pat Thomas runs three children’s programs a week – with a small amount of funding that stops in July.
Funding provided to Pat Thomas House by the Department of Children’s services is tight, according to executive officer Margaret Adams.
Their statistics show they went from 41 people accommodated in the last six months of 2014, to 82 so far this year, with the opening of their second shelter Estelle Anne.
“There has been an increase in assaults, but I think having the extra room has given us the ability to transition clients easier,” Ms Adams said.
“Some women can be here up to three months.”
Their Women’s Link program director is supposed to case manage 50 clients a year, instead she is seeing 80 to 100 reports a month.
Ms Adams said they provide programs for young boys and girls to take part in – because domestic violence can be generational.
But, their services are underfunded and overused.
Pat Thomas House spokeswoman Kim Stevens said some people can be reluctant to use their services as there is a stigma attached to coming to the refuge.
“Once they’re here they realise it isn’t that bad,” she said.
“People from higher socio- economic backgrounds have greater access to support. But there is the odd person who just needs to escape and this is the place to come.”
“We’ve had lawyers, police officers and teachers,” she said.
Responding to abuse
– Police are called to attend a report of domestic violence.
– Police attend.
– They assess the situation.
– Sometimes they have to remove a mother and children, rather than make a (sometimes drunk) aggressive man leave.
– Police call crisis care or a refuge.
– Staff members at the refuge assess the woman’s situation.
– If it is safe she is brought into the refuge.
– Sometimes for a woman’s safety she is sent to a refuge in another town (women whose partner’s are members of outlaw motorcycle clubs or women who have family members at the same refuge might be in this category).
– Once they are at the refuge they are made comfortable.
– They can receive clean pyjamas, clothes or a meal as needed.
– At the refuge the women receive advice on violence restraining orders, welfare payments and recovery orders if they have left their children.
This is part of a feature on domestic violence.
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