Dedicated family and domestic violence service for rural WA

DVassist – a dedicated information and support service for people living in rural and remote areas experiencing family and domestic violence – launches today (9 September 2020) in Western Australia.

The organisation was developed in response to the unique challenges people in country towns face in accessing information, advice, and practical support to deal with family and domestic violence.

These challenges can include social isolation, physical distance from services, fear of community gossip, and a lack of privacy.

A Commonwealth Government grant will see DVassist roll out across 16 pilot areas in Western Australia, including towns in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Goldfields, Great Southern, Wheatbelt, and South West regions.

The first phase involves the launch of a comprehensive online information hub and directory that gives people high-quality advice, support, and resources relevant to their geographical location and situation.

The second phase, due to commence in October this year, is a confidential domestic violence telephone counselling service for people in rural communities.

Turning the vision for DVassist into reality is a significant milestone for its founder, Esperance-based author Fleur McDonald.

After her own experience of trying to find timely, local information on family and domestic violence services left her frustrated and disillusioned, she decided there needed to be a resource that reflected the needs of rural people across Australia.

In 2017, she used her savings to set up an online information directory called Breaking the Silence.

Being recognised as a State Finalist for the AgriFutures (RIRDC) WA Rural Women’s Award in the same year led Fleur to connect with business and community leader, Peter Fitzpatrick AO AM (Mil) JP.

With his support and encouragement, she successfully lobbied the Commonwealth for a grant to transform her online directory into a nonprofit organisation focussed on family and domestic violence support for rural communities.

“I am incredibly grateful that Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt believed in the importance of funding a service like DVassist that specifically meets rural needs,” she said.

“With one in four rural women experiencing some form of family and domestic violence in their lifetime we need to create change and stop individuals from becoming a statistic.”

DVassist will initially cover 16 pilot areas:

  • Albany
  • Ashburton
  • Broome
  • Bunbury
  • Dalwallinu
  • Dowerin, Wyalkatchem and Goomalling
  • Esperance
  • Geraldton
  • Kalgoorlie
  • Karratha
  • Northam
  • Port Hedland
  • Wyndham-East Kimberley
  • Derby/West Kimberley
  • Wongan-Ballidu
  • Yilgarn

Contact: Carla Shearman on 0418 140 220.

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