‘Go Beyond Triage’: Pressure Grows for Domestic Violence Injury Recovery Center for Women

Jane Matts once had a knife to her throat from a violent and abusive former partner. Today, she is one of the driving forces behind the creation of Australia’s first trauma rehabilitation center for women.

She overcame homelessness, converted to a lawyer and is now one of the victim advocates supporting the campaign for the new model of care that would provide comprehensive services.

“Often when women leave domestic and family violence, they find themselves begging for help.

“We crave legal assistance, we crave advice and sometimes it doesn’t, or there are little services here and there – nothing is ever put in place.

“We are dealing with schools, courts, housing, finances, work, lack of employment, traumatized children, child welfare, bills and forms, forms and more.”

The report presents the new model of care for victims of domestic, family and sexual violence.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

When launching a report on the business case for the pilot center, Ms Matts shared her own story of physical and emotional abuse and said the trauma has passed on to her children.

“She [my daughter] never had that moment when there wasn’t something to trigger trauma.

“And even when I left, I still couldn’t control the trauma resulting from the experience.

“My daughter needs ongoing support, which we pay for; there is no funding for her to get the support she needs.”

Ms Matts said there was an “obvious” gap in support for women and their families.

“This center would be a brilliant and absolutely necessary innovation,” she said.

Launch of the operational framework

Local women’s groups, including the Illawarra Women’s Health Service, have worked to develop the model over the past two years.

The operational framework plans began with a joint design and engagement with the Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Women look into the distance
Patricia Cullen says the center aims to foster a sense of security.(ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

Report author Patricia Cullen said consultation continued with survivors, clinical health workers and legal experts.

“At the heart of the design are self-determination, compassion and security,” said Dr. Cullen.

“So that everyone, staff and customers alike, feel safe both emotionally and physically.

“There will be both crisis support and longer term care and a connection to the community.

“When we invest in the safety, health and healing of women in our community, we will not only invest in long-term health impacts, but we will also work to prevent violence and the generational transmission of trauma. “

Economic “evidence”

Donors are asking for $ 25 million to set up the “one-stop-shop” center.

Illawarra Women’s Health Center Executive Director Sally Stevenson said it costs a woman an average of $ 20,000 to leave an abusive relationship.

“It’s extremely difficult to have the resources to leave and that’s why a lot, a lot of women just can’t,” she said.

“In addition to the costs a woman incurs when trying to leave a relationship, it costs the NSW economy $ 100,000 every ten years for a woman who is not recovering from a relationship. trauma.

“From a financial point of view, it is really obvious for the NSW government to invest in this trauma center.”

Calls on state and federal governments to show their support

Shellharbour local MP Anna Watson thanked NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard for funding to draft the business model report, but said he and the Commonwealth should Do more.

“The state and the federal government can and must do better,” Ms. Watson said.

“I don’t want this report to just be read and put on hold for another year or two, I want action to be taken now.

“I won’t stop until we have a trauma recovery center right here in Shellharbour, which can be copied to other areas.”


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