Domestic violence clinics could be established at Illawarra and Shoalhaven women’s health centres under a new statewide proposal.
The Warilla and Nowra centres are among 17 health centres to be earmarked for the clinics by Sydney advocacy group SOS Women’s Services, which is calling on the state government to fund them.
The clinics would operate each Monday, providing a one-stop-shop for women wanting help to leave abusive relationships or stay safely in their homes.
Illawarra Women’s Health Centre general manager Sally Stevenson supported the initiative.
‘’These prevention clinics would be an Australian-first,’’ she said. ‘’We want any woman, anywhere in NSW, to know that she can go to any women’s health centre and get all the information she needs in the one place, without having to repeat her story to multiple services.
‘’The estimated cost of domestic violence in NSW is estimated at $4.5 billion a year – these clinics would cost $1.9 million each year and would be an important support and intevention service.’’
Ms Stevenson said women would receive one-on-one appointments with a caseworker, a financial counsellor and have a health check up with a GP or nurse – all on the one day.
‘’There were 1084 reports of domestic violence to police in the Illawarra in the year to March 2016 – but that’s just the start,’’ she said.
‘’We know around 50 to 60 per cent of women don’t report domestic violence to police, and are more likely to reveal it privately to their GP or counsellor.
‘’So these clinics would give women the opportunity do that in a safe, women-only, space.’’
Up to 80 per cent of clients at the Warilla centre were believed to have experienced, or are still experiencing, domestic violence Ms Stevenson said. The clinics would identify and help the many women who don’t need crisis assistance and don’t want, or need, to go to refuges.
Ms Stevenson said the clinics could be up and running within weeks with the necessary funding.
‘’We could establish a clinic here within four to six weeks,’’ she said.