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'We care about women who have experienced domestic and family violence and their access to justice. Our work saves lives every day,’ says Renata Field, Director of WDVCAS NSW, the peak body representing the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services. ‘One of the Premier’s Priorities notes that “Domestic Violence has no place in our society”, yet the 2018 NSW budget has given us no additional funding to support the more than 43,000 women we work with each year.’
Domestic violence services are vastly underfunded in NSW compared to other Australian jurisdictions. WDVCAS services have experienced a 104% increase in clients in the last 5 years, with only a 18.5% funding increase. The NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team Annual Report of 2017 highlights the need for additional supports for women attending court.BOCSAR statistics show an increase in DV related assaults and an increase in the number of domestic violence protection orders issued in NSW(ADVOs). With community concern about the issue at an all-time high following high level publicity from the #metoo movement, the death of women and children in our communities and the 2015 Australian of the year, Rosie Batty, the NSW government should be leading the way to fund specialist domestic violence services such as the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services.
The WDVCAS services urgently require case management funding to offer victim-survivors the comprehensive supports they need to increase their safety and navigate the complex justice system. Macarthur and Wagga Wagga WDVCASs are the only two WDVCAS services who are funded for victim support case management, which has been refunded in the 2018 budget for a further 12 months. The need for additional case management funding is noted in the NSW Domestic and Family Violence Blue Print for reform (2016) and the Domestic Violence Justice Strategy (2013-2017).
‘At Macarthur WDVCAS we provide thorough victim support through our case management funding, including support through lengthy court processes, support accessing other services and legal advice, planning for safety and specialist workers for vulnerable women, such as a women with disability and young people.’ says Chair of WDVCAS NSW and Macarthur WDVCAS co-ordinator, Tanya Whitehouse. ‘Reporting domestic violence is often the first step for women in a long journey to increase safety and access justice for crimes which have been committed against her’. WDVCAS NSW is advocating for every WDVCAS services to be resourced with case management funding to better support women experiencing domestic and family violence at risk of serious harm.
About WDVCAS NSW
Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service NSW Inc. is the peak body for 29 WDVCASs across NSW. Under Safer Pathway, WDVCAS workers contact women who have been a victim of a domestic violence incident involving Police within one working day of the incident to offer safety referrals and support. WDVCAS services also have 13 Multicultural specialist workers and 24 Aboriginal Specialist workers. 29 WDVCASs operate across NSW in 117 courts, with 9 services in regional and 10 services in rural areas.
WDVCAS NSW and the 29 WDVCASs are funded by Legal Aid NSW through the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program. The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program, administered by Legal Aid NSW, has been running for over 20 years and is the only state-wide specialist domestic violence service that works on a local level throughout the state. WDVCASs are in a unique situation as their funding is administered by Legal Aid NSW and auspiced by a local NGO which provides an essential link between the justice cluster, the Domestic Violence sector and individuals experiencing domestic violence, thus ensuring that women receive support through the labyrinth of services required to increase their safety and empowerment in their journey to escape domestic violence.
Renata Field, Director, WDVCAS NSW 0474 779 847
Jane Cowan, 2.5.2017, ‘Victorian budget: 'Brilliant' $1.9b family violence package will save lives, advocates say’, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-02/victorian-budget-family-violence-funding-will-save-lives/8489648
Data retreived from the WDVCAP database, February 2018,
NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team, 2017, Annual Report 2015-2017, http://www.coroners.justice.nsw.gov.au/Documents/2015-2017_DVDRT_Report_October2017%28online%29.pdf
BOCSAR, 2017, Criminal Courts Statistics 2017 http://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/Pages/bocsar_publication/bocsar_pub_statistical.aspx