Sutherland Shire Family Services receives funding boost to combat domestic violence increase during coronavirus pandemic

Funding boost: (L to R) Southern Sydney Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service manager Kate Cora, Eleni Petinos and Ashleigh Daines. Picture: Supplied
Funding boost: (L to R) Southern Sydney Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service manager Kate Cora, Eleni Petinos and Ashleigh Daines. Picture: Supplied

Sutherland Shire Family Services will receive about $60,000 in additional funding to employ more staff to deal with an influx of domestic violence victims as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

With cases of domestic violence increasing as a result of COVID-19, the state and federal governments have increased funding to organisations to help them cope with the added demand.

Miranda MP Eleni Petinos announced the funding boost last week and said the money would aid domestic violence victims and survivors.

"The pandemic has increased the potential for domestic abuse in homes across our community so we want to ensure help is available and accessible at this crucial time," Ms Petinos said.

"Our dedicated frontline services, as well as police and local court staff, do an incredible job each day responding to the scourge of domestic and family violence.

"This funding boost by the NSW and commonwealth governments will ensure Sutherland Shire Family Services have the resources they need to respond to any increase in service demand across our community."

Sutherland Shire Family Services chief executive Ashleigh Daines welcomed the funding, which would greatly benefit clients and the community.

The service has provided the Southern Sydney Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service on behalf of Legal Aid for more than 20 years, thus supporting thousands of women in Sutherland Shire and St George.

"The service receives on average [of more than] 400 referrals from police every month and responds to these with follow-up support calls ensuring women understand their options through the court system during Apprehended Domestic Violence Order processes and are supported to implement protective measures," Ms Daines said.

"The additional COVID-19 funding boost will allow us to employ additional staff to assist with both the expected increase in numbers, but also the increased complexity of cases being referred, as has already been evident during this period.

"The funding allows us to extend increased well-being measures and resources for these staff, as well as increasing our ability to provide additional relief to victims."

NSW Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Cronulla MP Mark Speakman, said more victims had sought assistance during the pandemic and were presenting with more complex needs.

"This comprehensive package responds to a range of issues raised with the government during this pandemic and aims to protect women and children, and ultimately save lives," Mr Speakman said.

The NSW Government has provided $12.8 million for frontline specialist services while the federal government has chipped in $8.8 million, bringing the total to $21 million.

The package includes statewide funding for women's refuges, Staying Home Leaving Violence (SHLV), Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS), legal services, and for the NSW Domestic Violence Line, which provides 24-hour crisis counselling and support referrals.

Ms Petinos urged anyone who is experiencing domestic or family violence, or who knows someone who is, to contact the Domestic Violence Line.

Details: 1800 656 463.