DVassist offers discreet aid to regional victims of domestic violence

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Lisa FavazzoGeraldton Guardian
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DVassist Client Services Manager Inez Carey.
Camera IconDVassist Client Services Manager Inez Carey. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

In a city like Geraldton, where few people are strangers, it can be unsafe for victims of domestic violence even to park outside a service provider’s office.

That’s the sad reality highlighted by the people behind a regionally focused violence hotline extending its services to Geraldton this month.

Esperance author Fleur Mc-Donald founded DVassist to help women in the regions who struggle to access support when experiencing domestic violence.

The program, still in its pilot phase, has been operating since late last year. Over the coming weeks, it plans to extend its service by opening up lines on weekends and launching a web chat feature.

Client services manager Inez Carey said the anonymity of an online service helped women living in smaller communities, towns and cities, and the web chat service would allow users to reach support even when others were within listening distance.

Ms Carey said the website had been set up to load quickly, even when the user had limited reception or wi-fi. She said regional victims with lives tied to their partners job and income, as with some of the women who lived in mining or agricultural towns, were at risk and needed more help.

“In farming communities, women often feel like they can’t access support because they’re asset-rich, but they might not even have access to $3 to get the bus into town. And, the bus costs more than $3,” she said.

Ms Carey spent last week speaking with Geraldton-based service providers to learn about local domestic violence support needs. She said housing was a big concern in Geraldton, adding low levels of crisis accommodation and the tight rental market — the latest Real Estate Institute of WA figures show a one per cent vacancy rate — left women in desperate situations.

“People often have to relocate to Perth to get housing and support for themselves and their kids,” she said.

“Some have never lived in Perth and don’t particularly want to, but it’s the only place they can go.”

To reach out to DVassist, call 1800 080 083. Other crisis lines include 1800 RESPECT and Lifeline WA 13 11 14.

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