Service to target rising violence

Service to target rising violence

Tenders to build five independent units of temporary, safe accommodation for women � with or without children � who, as a result of family and domestic violence, are homeless or at risk of becoming homelessness, closed last month.

It is understood the �cluster model,� accommodation would be a first for Australia.

Department for Child Protection and Family Support documents reveal the refuge would be built at �a confidential location� in Ellenbrook. It is expected to be completed by November.

Although the site�s locale is being kept a secret because of possible threats to clients, the department revealed it would have �access to public transport, retail and community facilities.�

Plans for the project, expected to cost about $2 million, were revealed at a departmental budget estimates hearing last June.

Child and Protection Minister Helen Morton told the hearing the facility was part of an election commitment made by the Liberal Government to the region.

Department acting director general Emma White also told the hearing �cluster-style� was the department�s �preferred model for any new refuge that we may have into the future�.

She said it gave the department more flexibility to meet the needs of particular women, depending on how many children they had.

The department intends to contract a not-for-profit community group or local government authority to manage the service.

The refuge, which would consist of two three-bedroom units and three two-bedroom units, would provide accommodation on a short-term basis only. It will also administer a Safe at Home program and outreach support service for both its clients and other women in the community.

The refuge is being built in response to burgeoning domestic violence numbers in WA over the past three years and a general lack of accommodation for battered women and their children.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Specialist Homelessness Services report for 2012-13, domestic and family violence remains a key driver of homelessness.

The Department for Child Protection and Family Support provided accommodation to more than 9000 clients in 2012-13, including 7100 with emergency accommodation. About 36 per cent of the total sought help because of domestic or family violence.

WA police figures also show an escalation of domestic violence.

Police Minister Liza Harvey said the number of family violence incidents reported to police had risen dramatically to 44,947 in 2012 � 2� times the level in 2004.

About 30,000 of the reports came from the Perth metropolitan area. Between 2008-09 and 2012-13, there was an increase in Domestic Violence Incident Reports (DVIR) of 42 per cent.

From 2010-11 to 2012-13, there was also a 133 per cent increase in domestic violence-related homicides. Twenty eight alone were recorded in WA in 2012-13.

�Family violence is, unfortunately, core business for police and the courts, with applications for restraining orders being made in 31 per cent of cases recorded by police in 2012, � Mrs Harvey said.

�This is in addition to matters such as breaches of violence restraining orders, bail applications and trials for serious offences.�