The battle to retain the Lake Illawarra Family Violence Support Service continues, with Shellharbour Liberal councillor Kellie Marsh vowing to keep up her fight regardless of the consequences to her party at next year’s state election.
Last month, Shellharbour councillors unanimously backed a call from Cr Marsh for the council to write to the Premier and relevant ministers to fund the service beyond July 2015.
Cr Marsh told the council she was a proud former client of the service, ‘‘a service that went beyond the call of the duty’’.
Despite assisting in hundreds of cases of domestic violence a month, the service was told in August it would not be funded past July 2015, under state government domestic violence reforms.
The two-person service works from the Lake Illawarra Area Command police station at Oak Flats, contacting victims of domestic violence with information on police processes, apprehended violence orders, family law and counselling.
In a letter addressing Cr Marsh’s concerns, the Minister for Women Pru Goward said the government’s It Stops Here reforms would help shape the future for people affected by domestic and family violence in NSW.
‘‘We are only at the beginning of this major reform and will be closely monitoring our progress, as well as gaps and issues, over the next five years,’’ Ms Goward wrote.
‘‘Prior to the model commencing in the Illawarra, the Department of Justice will establish arrangements for managing victim referrals from July 1, 2015.
‘‘This will involve police referring domestic and family violence victims to a local Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service.
‘‘In the Illawarra, the WDVCAS is managed by the Wollongong Women’s Information Service, the same organisation that currently hosts the Lake Illawarra Family Violence Support Service. This will provide some continuity of service response for victims in your region.’’
Cr Marsh said ‘‘the bottom line is this service is not going to be in Shellharbour’’ and would leave many victims unable to directly access support.
‘‘Local people know the dynamics of the area and some victims will not have the resources to travel into Wollongong,’’ Cr Marsh said.
‘‘The biggest plus is the current service has going for them is that they are working out of the police station.
‘‘And the way police have responded to domestic violence since the service was established has improved so much as well.
‘‘What we have is the model that should be taken around NSW and Australia because it works.
‘‘I will keep going on this issue. I won’t give up.’’