WASH House, Blacktown Council to hold vigil for domestic violence victim Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown was stabbed to death in her Whalan home last month.
Sarah Brown was stabbed to death in her Whalan home last month.

A candle-lit vigil will be held in Dawson Mall, Mount Druitt next week to remember a life brutally cut short.

Sarah Brown, 30, died after she was stabbed in the stomach by her former partner in her Whalan home last month.

Ms Brown, a mother of five, was the sixth woman to be murdered by a family member in the Blacktown area since 2015.

The vigil, to be held on Thursday, October 12, was organised by women’s support group WASH House, with the support of Blacktown Council.

WASH House manager Debra Coulson said the day was a chance for the community to “stand up and say ‘Enough’”. 

“Sarah...should never have died in this way,” she said.

“We invite all members of our community to join us to mark Sarah’s death and commit together to stop the violence.

“Together we can and will make a difference.”

Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali said every Australian needed to be on the lookout for violence in the home.

“Women across Australia are being killed by their partner or former partner every week on average.

“At least one in four women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner since the age of 15.

“We must stand together as a whole community to end the silence and end the violence; in honour of Sarah Brown and all victims of domestic violence.”

  • The vigil will be held at Dawson Mall, Mount Druitt on Thursday, October 12 from 5pm

NO PLACE TO GO AS SHELTERS DISAPPEAR 

Fatal domestic violence incidents jumped by 40 per cent in NSW last year, but the number of refuge shelters has plummeted as the death toll rises.

There were 89 domestic violence shelters in the state in 2013.

That number has fallen to 14 following state government reforms.

Women’s-only refuges were bundled in with other services including homeless shelters under the state government’s Go Home, Stay Home program.

Christine Bird, an expert with 40 years experience working in domestic violence, said the government’s policies have left survivors with no place to go.

‘‘Even When there were 89 [centres] only one in two women applying could be taken,’’ said Ms Bird.

‘‘Now they have to line up with everyone who is homeless and they often miss out leaving them with nowhere safe to escape their abuse.”

A spokesperson for Family and Community Services said the number of government-funded refuges increased from 76 to 81 since 2014.

They said that equates to more than 1550 beds for women and children in crisis each night.

In its most recent budget, the state government announced funding for homelessness and crisis accommodation would rise to $61.6 million in the current financial year.

“Through increased funding and expansion of services, an additional 26 per cent of clients experiencing domestic and family violence were supported with accommodation through specialist homelessness services in 2015-16, compared to 2013-14. This amounts to a total of 23,171 people,” the spokesperson said.

Statistics show women are most likely to be murdered when leaving a perpetrator of domestic violence.

Ms Bird the first two weeks after leaving was the most dangerous time for victims.

“If we don’t make more safe women’s refuges available in NSW for those women and children trying to escape often life threatening domestic violence situations, the death toll could very well continue to rise,” she said.