Beds funded for domestic violence abusers to keep women safe

Beds are still being offered to perpetrators of domestic violence in a pilot program helping women and children stay in their own home, with the State Government announcing $1 million to extend it by a year.

Sep 01, 2022, updated Sep 01, 2022

Nine beds are set aside for abusers in the program run by OARS while another 31 beds are offered to women and children fleeing domestic violence through Women’s Safety Services SA.

New safe homes were established across metropolitan Adelaide, the Murray Mallee, Eyre Peninsula and eastern regions of South Australia in the project.

Human Services Minister Nat Cook said new funding would extend the pilot started in November 2019 as the effectiveness of new approaches to support domestic violence survivors are continually reviewed.

“These programs really speak to the heart of protecting survivors and helping divert perpetrators away from repeated violent and controlling behaviours. Perpetrators also need supports to break their cycle of offending,” Cook said.

Working with perpetrators on early intervention and moving them to crisis accommodation is expected to support women and children remaining in their home, rather than being forced to move away in order to be safe.

“We find with the work that we do, not having the victim and children having to be uprooted makes more sense,” Women’s Safety Services SA director of services Katherine Cock said.

Perpetrators who take part in the program receive case management and assistance to access other supports to help them address their behaviour.

The Domestic and Family Violence – Crisis Accommodation Program, along with the separate response for perpetrators, has helped 179 clients to access safe accommodation in Housing Trust properties that are closer to family, friends, and employment.

When the program was first introduced, Women’s Safety Services SA chief executive officer Maria Hagias said the new crisis accommodation provided a safe place following high demand during COVID lockdowns.

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“Our services have been incredibly busy during the pandemic, so it is a relief knowing we have these beds ready for women and their children, rather than them needing to be placed in motel accommodation,” Hagias said at the time.

Cock said the number of domestic violence cases rises every year, as more awareness leads to greater reporting.

She said having beds available in rural regions along with the south and north of the metropolitan areas was proving positive.

“It is helpful as we use hotels when people can’t access our shelter accommodation and they are often full and quite centrally located in metropolitan Adelaide,” Cock said.

Domestic violence survivors are offered intensive case management to improve safety and physical and mental wellbeing in the program – including help to safely return home or to transfer to alternate safe and stable housing.

Survivors are also assisted to connect to relevant external services during and after their stay in crisis accommodation.

Maria Hagias is also deputy chair of the Premiers Council for Women and previously co-chair for the Coalition of Women’s Domestic Violence Services in South Australia.

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