Successful trial demonstrates the benefits of a specialist family and domestic violence service for regional WA

DVassist will seek to become a permanent family and domestic violence service for regional Western Australia after successfully completing a three-year Commonwealth backed trial.

While the end of the pilot project means DVassist’s counselling line will close this week, the organisation said there is clear demand for an ongoing support service specifically for people living in regional, rural and remote communities.

It will continue to explore funding options to establish a permanent non-profit service which it believes can make a powerful contribution to the prevention, early intervention, response and recovery aims outlined in the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032.

DVassist Director Jenny Bloom said the DVassist trial was developed to address the unique barriers people living in country towns face in accessing information and practical support to deal with family and domestic violence.

“Offering an online directory of services searchable by location and free anonymous web chat and telephone counselling helped people overcome factors such as social isolation, physical distance from services and the fear of community gossip,” she said.

“The organisation also played a critical role in educating people about the different forms of family and domestic violence impacting regional WA including behavioural, emotional, financial and psychological abuse.”

Ms Bloom said DVassist was originally funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to trial services across 16 locations in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Goldfields, Great Southern, Wheatbelt, Mid West and South West regions.

Funding from CBH, the NAB Foundation, Horizon Power, Roy Hill Holdings, Northern Star Resources and the Stan Perron Charitable Foundation enabled the organisation to expand to 58 areas and help hundreds of people by the end of the pilot project.

The service also benefitted from working closely with a range of government and non-profit agencies operating in the family and domestic violence sector.

“With one in four rural women experiencing some form of family and domestic violence in their lifetime we need to keep driving change,” said Ms Bloom.

“The DVassist offering supports the State Government’s initiatives being implemented through Path to Safety: Western Australia’s Strategy to reduce family and domestic violence 2020 – 2030 and we are hopeful we can become a permanent part of the state-wide effort with a sustainable financial model in the future.”

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