An alliance of family and domestic violence support agencies is ushering in a new, coordinated approach to tackling the issue in the Pilbara.
The Pilbara Family and Domestic Violence Network brings together domestic violence service providers across the region to enable collaboration at a high level, while being informed by frontline services about the needs and gaps in service delivery.
Celeste Stephens, Pilbara manager for the WA Council of Social Service, who is coordinating the network, said agencies had been aware that family violence was escalating and frontline services were severely overburdened.
There had been a great response to the network from service providers who were keen to work together for change.
Celeste said the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the family and domestic violence situation in the Pilbara. “Victims were stuck at home with perpetrators, and there was nowhere for perpetrators to turn to seek treatment or support,” she said.
The network’s initial discussions focused on the need for more preventative services.
Three areas for attention were identified, with an action group working on each.
- The need for place-based programs for men and perpetrators. The Aboriginal Men’s Healing Centre in Newman is a good example of what is needed.
- A community awareness campaign is needed to change perceptions of family and domestic violence. It is physical but also mental and financial. A targeted approach is needed for each town across region.
- Examine ways to bring service providers together and how to work better together. A MOU exists to facilitate cooperation, but it is not widely understood or used.
Celeste said these areas for action were seen as a way to get some short-term “quick wins”. But they would feed into a long-term strategy to tackle the family and domestic violence situation.
“The crux is that community-level change is required. It will take a lot of people and a lot of time. It’s multi-level and across the region,” she said.
Anyone wanting to know more or get involved should contact Celeste Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org.