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    SECURITY: Dhelk Dja Action Group chair Joanne Harrison-Clarke and Pam Branson are confident crisis accommodation to be built in the Wimmera will support a rising number of Aboriginal women and children facing family violence. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
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    Joanne Harrison-Clarke and Minister for Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams after the minister announced $9.1 million to build and operate a local Aboriginal family violence refuge.
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    SECURITY: Front, from left, Dhelk Dja Action Group chair Joanne Harrison-Clarke, Pam Branson and Family Violence Prevention Minister Gabrielle Williams, are confident crisis accommodation to be built in the Wimmera will support a rising number of Aboriginal women and children facing family violence. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Family-violence Crisis accommodation plan to help Koori women and children

By Dylan De Jong

Years of campaigning for greater support for Aboriginal family-violence survivors has paid off for a Wimmera advocacy group following a multi-million-dollar State Government commitment. 

Family Violence Prevention Minister Gabrielle Williams visited Horsham yesterday to announce $9.1-million for safe crisis accommodation in the Wimmera to support Aboriginal women and children at risk of family violence. 

The refuge will provide ‘on country’ accommodation and support for Aboriginal victim survivors and their families living in Horsham and surrounding areas, while also creating eight jobs. 

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The State Government plans mark the end of family-violence-prevention organisation Grampians Dhelk Dja Action Group’s campaign to bring the services to the region. 

Action group chair Joanne Harrison-Clarke said providing the support in the region would be vital for the healing process families needed after experiencing violence. 

“We have lobbied for more than two years. It has been a journey and we thought we wouldn’t get there, but we consistently raised the issue,” she said. 

“We were sending our women away three hours to Mildura or Melbourne to seek support, and now there’s a healing process they can do on country and not uproot their family or children to restart a new life.”

Mrs Harrison-Clarke said the number of Aboriginal women and children facing family violence in the region was growing.

She said providing this service within the region would remove a barrier for the increasing number of women and children who needed support.  

“There’s already a number of layers Aboriginal women face – they’re already going through domestic violence on top of maybe being from the Stolen Generation, going through the system and not having connection to family,” she said. 

“Previously we were sending them away so we were creating more layers we don’t need to create, when it can be a safe healing process on country.”

Minister Williams said the refuge would ensure victim survivors could be safe from violence while maintaining their connections with friends, family, kinship networks, schools, community and culture.

“This is really important because it allows families to recover in those independent units as a family without the communal living that was characterised at older models of refuges,” she said. 

“It also provides access to comprehensive on-site support services.”
She said the ‘core and cluster’ accommodation model would comprise up to six independent residential units – known as clusters – and an administrative support building – known as the core – on the same property. 

“Core and cluster refuges are the gold standard of family-violence refuges,” she said. 

“They comprise independent living units with a central building that provides wrap-around services on site.”

Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative will operate the new service and construction will start as soon as an appropriate site is identified. 

The entire May 5, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!