A new family and domestic violence (FDV) Mobile Outreach Initiative was launched by the State Government in January, with Communicare's Tuart House funded to provide the service in parts of the South-West region.
Tuart House provides culturally safe residential support for women and their children who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness because of FDV.
The state-wide outreach initiative is part of a comprehensive package of State Government FDV measures to protect vulnerable people across Western Australia and assist in the social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Communicare chief executive Melissa Perry said the funding has allowed Tuart House to employ a full-time worker to go into the community to improve the safety, resilience and capability of vulnerable women and their children experiencing FDV and prevent homelessness.
She said Communicare's outreach services would be provided in the City of Busselton and the Shires of Augusta and Margaret River, Boyup Brook, Bridgetown and Greenbushes, Manjimup and Nannup.
"This is an incredibly important initiative, particularly given the increased social isolation that so many women have experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," Ms Perry said.
"While we have been fortunate in WA not to have gone through the lock-downs we've seen in other states, we know that FDV incidents have spiked over the past 12 months.
"In fact, in December 2020, the WA Police Commissioner announced that crimes in all categories across WA had fallen during the COVID-19 pandemic, except FDV, which sadly experienced a sharp rise."
WA Police statistics show that family related assault and threatening behaviour offences have increased 15.7 per cent in 2020/21 from a five year average.
In 2019/20 there were almost 10,000 family related offences involving assault and threatening behaviour in regional WA.
Ms Perry said a survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology in mid-2020 revealed almost 10 per cent of Australian women in a relationship had experienced FDV during the coronavirus crisis.
"Two-thirds of the women said the attacks started or became worse during the pandemic," she said.
"This new outreach service will allow us to work within the community to provide a much-needed early intervention and prevention response.
"In our new role as the custodian of White Ribbon Australia, our goal is to eliminate all forms of men's violence against women.
"We applaud the State Government for improving the coverage of FDV support and improving community safety and wellbeing across WA."
Ms Perry said the outreach service would provide individual support to women and children experiencing FDV, including risk assessment, safety planning, advocacy, referrals and access to safe and secure accommodation.
"The service will also have the capacity to move with women as they relocate from one safe setting to another within the geographical catchment area," she said.
If someone you know needs help with a violent partner or family member, speak out. And if you are experiencing family or domestic violence, the following services can assist:
- Waratah: 1800 737 732
- 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732
- Crisis Care Helpline: 1800 199 008
- Women's Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 007 339
- Men's Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 000 599