Raising awareness of youth homelessness in Bega on Wednesday are SEWACS’ Skye Woolhouse and Kylie Furnell as well as Bega’s Rani Quin (middle). See article from Bega District News from 17 April 2019.
Elise was a young Bega Valley woman expecting her first child. A few months into the pregnancy her partner’s behaviour began to become violent. At first she thought the abusive behaviour of her partner would end, but the abuse continued.
She was torn between staying in the hope that things would change and having nowhere to go. She was also thinking of the future of her unborn child.
“I didn’t want to be alone, I wanted my child to have a happy family with both parents,” Elise said.
“The prospect of leaving was the hardest part. I didn’t want to come to terms with it. But the violence was escalating and I was receiving serious threats. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. It’s a small community and I didn’t want people to know.”
Elise’s story is just one of Bega Valley’s domestic violence cases. According to the Bureau of Crime and Statistics and Research (BOSCAR) there were 106 cases of domestic violence reported in the Bega Valley in 2018.
South East Women and Children’s Services (SEWACS) are currently case managing 38 cases of domestic violence. According to Bega’s Staying at Home Leaving Family Violence case worker Caroline Long there is still a long list of people waiting to receive calls.
But according to the experts working in the domestic violence area police statistics do not cover the reality of numbers of people affected by family and domestic violence.
“Most of the statistics we have are police statistics and they are just the reported cases,” Domestic Violence NSW CEO Moo Baulch said.
“Hospitalisation is normally when police get involved and the situation can be way down the track as far as abuse is involved. A lot of abuse is hidden.
“It is common to try to resolve domestic violence issues behind closed doors. This is the way we have spoken about domestic violence; it was always private, hidden family business. There can be some real barriers to seeking support for family violence.”
Feeling ashamed, breaking up families and isolation are just a few of the barriers women face. In rural and regional areas like Bega those hurdles can be doubly challenging.
“Woman are faced with a lack of public transport. If they don’t have a car or a licence or live remotely, how can they flee?” Ms Long said.
“There can be situations of reactive fleeing and women don’t have a licence but they need to leave. They could be stuck out on rural properties where there is access to guns. But because of circumstances it’s easier to stay.”
The Staying Home Leaving Violence program aims to prevent women and their children becoming homeless or having to move away from their support system.
Elise said if she didn’t find the support of SEWACS she would have most likely returned to the abusive situation.
“I couldn’t return home, but I was living out of my car. It wasn’t easy. I don’t know about other people’s cases but I imagine many women return or stay because they don’t know about the resources or are ashamed to get help.”
“I was basically homeless and pregnant – what I don’t understand is why I had to leave my family home because of his actions,” she said.
1800 RESPECT ( 1800 737 732)
24 hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
Men’s Referral Service
1300 766 491
This service from No to Violence offers assistance, information and counselling to help men who use family violence.
Second Bite delivers supplies to SEWACS to support women and children affected by domestic violence and homelessness in the Eurobodalla region.
Second Bite sources fresh, nutritious food from supermarkets that is surplus to requirements and works with local community organisations to redistribute to those individuals and families who may be struggling to afford food. Food is collected from Coles Batemans Bay by volunteers and delivered to organisations in the region. SEWACS is a grateful recipient of the much needed items that enable families to be supported.
The Bega community has come together to help raise awareness of the impact of violence.
The Bega Valley Domestic and Sexual Violence Committee hosted its annual street march protest against violence on Wednesday, December 19 through the centre of town.
The march was originally scheduled for Sunday, November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, but was rescheduled due to unforeseen wet weather.
SEWACS (South East Women and Children’s Services) would also like to thank the community for their generous support of the White Ribbon Day stall held at Moruya Markets late last year.
SEWACS would also like to thank artist Loretta Parsley for making available a beautiful piece of art which was raffled on the day. At the stall face painting was offered and information on support services was made available. Eurobodalla Domestic Violence volunteers collected $600 to support the work being done to support families affected by domestic violence.
Members of Deep River Choir contributed their time and some noise to help raise awareness,
accompanied by volunteers.
Donations from Bunnings and K Mart made it possible for the stall to be held as well as goodies to be hand out.
The following article was printed in the Bega District News on 20 December 2017
The following article appeared in the Bega District News on 06 December 2017
The following article appeared in the Bega District News on 23 November 2017
50 Parker Street, Bega, NSW 2550
SEWACS Main Office
02 6492 2088
Staying Home Leaving Violence
02 6492 6239
South East Youth Accommodation Services
02 6492 2223
Eurobodalla Domestic and Family Violence Program
02 4474 3226