New figures reveal a horrifying rise in the number of women accessing support for domestic violence across the South East.
Centacare data shows that over the past quarter, the Limestone Coast Domestic Violence Service has supported 105 women – more than half of the total 194 clients it connected with in 2021-2022.
Southern Country Domestic Violence Service Program Manager Nik Tilley said the statistics were trending towards alarming new highs ahead of the festive season, when incidents of abuse usually increase.
“Traditionally, we see a sharp rise in incidents over the Christmas and holiday period, so we could be in a situation where we will have supported more women in six months than we did in the entire previous year,’’ Nik said.
Last financial year, Centacare’s Southern Country Domestic Violence Service supported a total 654 clients through specialist services in the Adelaide Hills and Murray Mallee, Riverland, Whyalla and the Limestone Coast.
The Riverland and Adelaide Hills and Murray Mallee services have recorded a similar surge in client numbers. Since July 1, the services have respectively supported half the total number of clients they saw in the previous 12 months.
Nik said the rising cost of living was not helping.
“Mums are having to decide between paying their electricity or feeding their children, and what more they need to do to pay the rent. That pressure absolutely increases tension in households,’’ she said.
Nik said the growing shortage of affordable private rentals and community and public housing continued to keep women in crisis accommodation for longer at the expense of those at imminent risk.
Currently, LCDVS emergency accommodation is full. Nine crisis units, two transitional and four supported properties, and one Domestic and Family Violence Crisis Accommodation site, are occupied.
“We have had a mother and her children in a motel for more than 30 nights because there are no other safe options for the family to go,’’ Nik said.
“While the rise in clients seeking specialist support tells us domestic violence is not abating, it does show a growing awareness in regional communities of the help at hand for at-risk women and children.’’
A community forum will be held in Mount Gambier next Wednesday, November 9 as part of the Regional Response to the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence project which aims to mobilise whole-of-community actions to tackle the root causes of gender-based violence.
The forum will bring about 30 people together at University of South Australia and follows extensive community consultation and engagement in the region. The discussions will inform a community action plan to guide future responses, due for completion early next month.
Limestone Coast Domestic Violence Service (08) 8303 6640 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Murray Mallee & Adelaide Hills Domestic Violence Service (08) 8228 8960 | email@example.com
Riverland Domestic Violence Service (08) 8215 6380 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Whyalla Regional Domestic Violence Service (08) 8215 6370 | email@example.com