New Victorian Government funding for cohealth’s counseling services in Western Melbourne recognises that family violence goes beyond physical abuse, and can last a lifetime.
Kylie*, a Footscray resident, says she is looking for results from the increased government attention on family violence.
She went to court ten years ago to get a lifetime restraining order for her violent husband, but took another seven years to get her life back on track.
“This is really, really, important. There are so many forms of abuse, you can’t just address one, we’ve got to stop women being prisoners in their own home.”
cohealth Chief Executive Ms Lyn Morgain said increased funding for counseling services was one of the 21 recommendations cohealth provided in its submission to the Royal Commission on Family Violence.
“The brave women who came together to help form our submission have experienced multiple forms of abuse – not just physical, and had a lot to say about how we can do better to look after their health needs.
“It’s clear that the issue of violence occurring in relationships of any form is a health issue, not just a legal, police or courts one.
“We’re delighted that Ministers Jenny Mikakos and Fiona Richardson have responded to this area of need – and that Western Melbourne is recognised as one region in Victoria whose need is among the highest.
“Family violence counselling provides a safe and supportive space. It helps women identify the effects of violence on them and their children and recover from the trauma. It helps nurture and build their strength, resources and networks to take steps to move forward.
“This has a flow on effect for mothers where they feel supported to assist their children to recover, which is often their key concern.
Sally*, a Sunshine woman using cohealth’s services says family violence counselling will help women and children, no matter where they are in their lifelong journey.
“The trauma doesn’t stop once the violence has ended.”
Sally and Kylie both contributed to cohealth’s submission to the Royal Commission on Family Violence. Sally says women face difficulties accessing support, especially psychological, when they don’t have tell-tale signs of serious physical violence.
“Knowing this assistance is available at any time, during or after crisis, is very comforting.”
Ms Morgain said making sure that women who use services are part of the process of developing responses was another key recommendation to the Commission.
“Our submission, based on these same principles of co-design, gives voice to people who use our services to meet their needs – no matter where they live, how violence affects their health, their culture or the language they speak.
“We’ve suggested that the Government provide long term investment for community-based projects that are tailored for those communities – a national awareness campaign won’t change behaviour.
Sally said she learnt a lot from the process and was struck by the common threads in each woman’s story.
“But while each story has a common element – no one story was the same.
“It’s not just about violence, it’s about equity.”
* Sally and Kylie’s real names have been changed for safety reasons