With domestic violence becoming more concerning during the COVID-19 crisis, the need for a southern domestic violence hub is becoming more evident. (Image Source: Arbela)
By Eva Blandis | @BlandisEva
Crisis support for women affected by domestic violence already exists however, the Southern Women Matter Campaign are urging for more preventative measures to be put in place.
Labor MP Katrine Hildyard is the state member for the electoral district Reynell in Adelaide’s south. She is also a committee member of Southern Women Matter and an advocate for women affected by domestic violence.
Southern Women Matter’s aim is to put preventative measures in place for domestic violence in the outer southern suburbs of Adelaide.
Ms Hildyard, along with the Southern Domestic Violence Action Group and other organisations, is very passionate about ending the cycle of domestic violence and have been working together over the past year.
Previously, women in the south use to be referred to local services where they could gain support regarding domestic violence. However, since the closure of both Southern Women’s Health and Shine SA Noarlunga, women experiencing domestic violence, in the outer southern suburbs, have had little means of support.
“Those services aren’t here in the south any longer, so we need to create a strong collaborative network of those preventative services, and we think that will come about funding a preventative hub in our southern community.”
Along with Ms Hildyard and other organisations, there are a lot of community members who are passionate about preventing domestic violence in their community.
Despite the presence of crisis support, the outer southern suburbs and the rest of the state also need centres where women can acquire care to prevent domestic violence from occurring again.
“It’s really important that we have crisis services to keep women safe, [but]… we also need to have prevention funded here in the south and right across the state,” Ms Hildyard said.
“Our groups [have] been alarmed that in the last two state budgets, there hasn’t been any funding for prevention.
“In South Australia and right across Australia I think that domestic violence crisis services are stretched… all they can deal with is… crisis situations, there aren’t the resources available… to prevent domestic violence.”
The Southern Women Matter organisation has put forward a petition for an outer southern domestic violence service hub and is “lobbying for preventative services in the South,” she said.
Due to COVID-19, the organisation has had to stop collecting signatures, but they have already acquired a substantial amount.
“We want to get as many as we possibly can… we know it’s only through collective action that we will be able to make a change,” Ms Hildyard said.
“We will continue to collect signatures as soon as it’s safe to do so… and then we will be tabling those petitions in parliament.”
COVID-19 also poses a threat to an increase in domestic violence cases all around Australia.
“We know that when there are crises of any type, women are the most disadvantaged and the most at risk, so I think we do need to look very carefully… at the rise and prevalence of domestic violence,” she said.
However, it is difficult to collect statistics about women affected by domestic violence in the southern suburbs due to the lack of preventative resources.
“Should we have more preventative services in place I think we would also get a better picture of what is actually occurring and… where we need to target those preventative resources,” Ms Hildyard said.
Ms Hildyard encourages people to speak up whenever they hear of gender inequality or when people hear of women being disrespected.
“Gender inequality underpins disrespect and violence towards women… so if we are not… addressing gender inequality… then we are not going to break that cycle,” she said.
Ms Hildyard also urges everybody to call the police if they are worried or know that somebody is experiencing domestic violence.
“Do not hesitate to speak up, to reach out and to act, because it is all of our responsibility and it’s only together… that we’re going to be able to make a difference… and keep women safe,” she said.
As a society, we have a collective responsibility to speak up against violence against women and, when we can, raise awareness about it.
The Southern Women Matter Campaign is an impressive example of how people are working together and striving to prevent domestic violence.
“If we want to end this horrific cycle of domestic violence, we need to fund prevention,” Ms Hildyard said.
It is vital that, whenever and wherever we can, we work together to protect those affected by domestic violence.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact the 24-hour Domestic Violence Crisis Line on 1800 800 098 for crisis counselling or 1800RESPECT for sexual assault or domestic and family violence counselling.