A Wollongong-based domestic violence service has supported calls for greater funding for the sector, as agencies continue to grapple with increased demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the NSW Women's Alliance have written to the federal and state governments and asked for the $150 million committed last year to support services during the pandemic to be repeated in the next financial year.
Michelle Glasgow, manager of the Illawarra Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy, supported the request for such financial support to continue.
"Frontline domestic violence services have been chronically underfunded for years, limiting clients' access to vital resources and supports such as counselling, case management, social support and safe accommodation," Ms Glasgow said.
Between March and August last year - at the height of the lockdowns - the Illawarra DVCAS saw referrals for people aged 16 to 24 alone jump 132 per cent from the previous year.
"We have also observed an increase in the complexity and severity of domestic violence incidents experienced by all of our clients," Ms Glasgow said.
The service received funding via the NSW government to support its operations during the pandemic, and to employ a youth specialist worker for 12 months.
"The additional funding has been greatly appreciated as it provided a small cushion to our workers, allowing us to ensure that they received additional support and resources to continue their support of women in the Illawarra... It also gave us as a service an opportunity to ensure that our workers received additional access to psychological support to assist in their own care and wellbeing," Ms Glasgow said.
"But it is a small cushion and when it stops we will need to decrease our staffing levels and cease the youth specialist role, which will impact not only staff wellbeing but the service and support we can offer some of our community's most vulnerable.
"Additional funding needs to be a national and state priority."
The letter to parliamentarians says that while it is recognised the COVID supplementation funding was designed to support services for a finite period, "client need and demand has not subsided".
The requests for this funding are supported by a parliamentary committee that conducted an inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia.
The committee recommended that federal, state and territory governments continue to provide increased funding for frontline services in the sector during the pandemic.
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