Domestic violence up as Illawarra support service gets axe

File photo.

File photo.

Domestic assault was one of few crime categories on the increase in the Illawarra, yet a successful domestic violence outreach service is to be axed under state government reforms.

The Lake Illawarra Family Violence Support Service is a program of Wollongong Women's Information Service.

Operating since 2009, the two-person service works from Lake Illawarra police station, contacting victims of domestic violence with information on police processes, apprehended violence orders, family law and counselling.

The service, which has dealt with up to 380 domestic violence issues a month - more than 10 a day - will be axed from July 2015.

"They said we don't fit with the reforms," said Lake Illawarra Family Violence Support Service support worker Lauren Huggett.

"We've seen 5500 people since we started, at least 300 cases a month for the last 18 months. There is certainly a need for this, and it's sad for the government to say they don't need our service."

BOCSAR stats show 1043 domestic assaults in the Illawarra in the 12 months to June 2014, up from 1002 the previous year.

Member for Wollongong Noreen Hay said the loss of the service would hurt women in the area.

"This is appalling. I am concerned about the government's attitude to women's services," she said.

"This is a crucial domestic violence service, and we all agree this sector needs more resources not less.

"It is very successful, for little money."

Ms Hay said tougher economic conditions and rising unemployment would see domestic violence rates rise even higher.

"It adds to the stress of keeping a stable family environment. The more you remove that support infrastructure, the more domestic violence and crime will increase," she said.

Ms Huggett said the loss of the Family Violence Support Service would shift more burden onto police.

A spokesperson for the Department of Family and Community Services confirmed the service would not be funded past 2015.

"[FACS] committed to deliver $100,000 ... for a fixed period of five years," a statement to the Mercury read.

"[We are] honouring the funding commitment that all parties agreed upon ... new replacement services are being rolled out under the 'It Stops Here' reforms."

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