Funding and education needed to overcome domestic violence

Sarah Brown. Ioakima Sini. Harjit Kaur. Kirralee Dugo and her unborn child. Linda Addams and her grandson. Linda Locke. 

These are the eight lives lost to family violence and related attacks in the Blacktown area since May 2015.

A Glendenning woman is fighting for her life after her partner allegedly slashed her throat on October 7.

Crisis accommodation and more funding for support services is desperately needed in western Sydney, according to Blacktown Women’s and Girls’ Health Centre chief Jhan Leach.

FIGHTING: Jhan Leach (right) with North West Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service coordinator Kerry Kent. The legal service is dealing with up to 400 referrals every month. Picture: Isabella Lettini

FIGHTING: Jhan Leach (right) with North West Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service coordinator Kerry Kent. The legal service is dealing with up to 400 referrals every month. Picture: Isabella Lettini

The 2016 Blacktown Woman of the Year, herself a family violence survivor, said she feared the devastating scourge of domestic violence would only get worse before it gets better.

“In the last 26 years that I’ve been working with domestic violence, I have only seen it get worse. It doesn’t matter how hard we’ve worked,” Ms Leach said. 

“Will I see a change in my lifetime? I fear not.”

The centre is approaching its 30th birthday, and over those three decades it has delivered support to more than 11,000 women in Blacktown.

NSW crime data shows police responded to 2054 domestic violence assaults in the Blacktown local government area last year. Experts estimate up to 70 per cent of cases go unreported.

Ms Leach said she feared for the thousands of residents moving to new suburbs in the north-west growth area with no social infrastructure and no support services.

Her immediate goal is to secure funding for the Blacktown centre to stay open 24 hours a day, offering women refuge day or night.

In the long-term she would like to see the NSW government commit to an education model similar to the one currently being rolled-out in Victoria.

“I still don’t think there’s enough money from the federal or state government,” Ms Leach said.

“We have to work across all the age groups on this, but if we had a generation of children that learned about behaviour in relationships, inappropriate anger, and how to communicate with each other in a respectful manner...I’d like to see what effect that generation of education would have on this epidemic.”

Support is available at Blacktown Women’s and Girls’ Health Centre on 9831 2070.

If you or someone you know is in danger, please call triple-0.

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