Thursday, 1 August 2019
Cowper Electorate: Domestic and Family Violence
On Saturday night I attended the Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce business awards. I take this opportunity to congratulate all the finalists and winners. However, there is one in particular that I would personally like to congratulate and commend for their important service to the people of Port Macquarie. Liberty Domestic & Family Violence Specialist Services has helped families fleeing domestic violence for 39 years. Originally the Hastings Women and Children's Refuge, they provide crisis accommodation and support services to women and children escaping domestic violence or who are in crisis. Their vision is to create communities where women and children are safe and live to their fullest potential.
Liberty provide 24-hour crisis support with transport, food, clothing and accommodation when those crises occur—often in the middle of the night when there is no-one else to help. They were the first women's service in the state to have a registered men's behaviour change program, and last year they were selected as one of just 16 services in a pilot program tailoring homelessness services to meet client-centred wellbeing outcomes in health, education, employment and finance.
Liberty have approached their goal with a multilevel, holistic approach, building social inclusion, employment participation and education, and building skills for domestic violence teams through their wellness programs and classes ranging from yoga to financial education and literacy. Importantly, they are helping to reduce the incidence of domestic violence through their fixed address program by providing case management to men, supporting them with housing and finding new ways of engagement with men, including several outreach support groups for kids or women who have experienced domestic violence. Staff have been trained in cultural awareness to provide the best possible service to Indigenous families, who represent 52 per cent of the transitional housing clients and just over a quarter of those in crisis accommodation.
Liberty are the first non-metropolitan service involved in the RSPCA's safe families framework of offering pet-inclusive accommodation, as pet safety is one of the barriers to women seeking and maintaining the animal-human bond. In their efforts to make our community a safer place, Liberty run numerous programs and events to raise awareness of domestic violence, such as the coastal walk against domestic violence, the fixed-address program and the women's wellness centre. It is organisations like Liberty Domestic & Family Violence Specialist Services which make a real difference to those experiencing domestic violence. I commend them for their tireless efforts.