Domestic violence victim slept in police station

Crisis accommodation for Shoalhaven women and their children escaping domestic violence is virtually non-existent according to the manager of a local intervention service.

Sue Davies, the co-ordinator of the Nowra Domestic Violence Intervention Services, run by YWCA NSW at the Nowra Police Station, fears many victims are going back into domestic violence situations simply because they have nowhere else to go.

Twice in the past two weeks she has been unable to find safe accommodation for women and their children escaping domestic violence.

One victim was forced to pay for her own motel, while another woman with two children spent the night on the floor of an office at the Nowra Police Station.

Ms Davies has questioned the effectiveness of the Link 2 Home assistance line introduced last July to help find accommodation for domestic violence victims.

“Historically we would ring the DV hotline and organise crisis accommodation,” she said.

“If we could not find any, we could stretch our budget and have in the past paid for accommodation.

“We had a wonderful relationship with Housing NSW and they would often put victims in a motel and pay for it if it was a police driven domestic violence event and we verified it.

“But this new system, initiated as part of the Going Home Staying Home (GHSH) reform, just doesn’t seem to be working.”

On both recent occasions Ms Davies contacted local refuges, which had no rooms available.

“I contacted the Link 2 Home and was told they could not speak to me, they needed to speak to the victim,” she said.

“I asked the worker to contact the police officer in charge, who was with the victim at the time.

“I received a call from the officer about an hour later who was irate because the Link 2 Home worker had rung and questioned the officer at length and then in her words ‘interrogated’ the victim for a further 20 minutes, asking many questions that did not seem relevant or appropriate at the time of trauma.

“The victim was then told they would not be able to assist her.

“Due to the fact it was late and the family was distressed, the woman used the last of her funds to pay for a motel for the night.

“As she fled without a phone and car, I sought approval for the YWCA DVIS budget to cover the cost of three nights’ accommodation, which would enable the family safety and a roof over their heads until the woman could attend Housing NSW.”

In the other situation, again there were no vacancies at the refuges and calls to Link 2 Home again failed to provide assistance.

“Out of desperation, the woman and her children stayed in the domestic violence office at the Nowra station, the woman sleeping in a chair and the children on the floor,” Ms Davies said.

“When I arrived at work the next working the woman and children were gone. I was told they had gone to get breakfasts but they never came back.

“I can only assume they went back to the home and possibly into the same situation.

“How are we supposed to do our jobs and help these women trying to escape domestic violence when there is nothing out there to help us?

“We are on call at evening and weekends to assist police with DV victims and are often asked to assist to find these families safe accommodation.

“The DVIS is not a homelessness service and does not have the funds to pay for accommodation.

“I don’t believe this system is working and we wonder as a society why victims of family violence return to the perpetrator.”


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Mind Matters holds introduction day

MIND MATTERS: Edward John Eyre Highschool recently held an introduction to Student Voice and Mind Matters. Pictured were (back, from left) Ford King, Ronald King, Jackson Kerr, Kim Simmonds, Maddison Mills-Couper, Angel Woeltjis, Michael Van Wageningen, Kiara Marsland, (front) Jessica Vines, Jessica McKay, Amelia Pudney, school counsellor Noelene Gapp, Johanes Azucena and Alicia Burchell.Edward John Eyre High School Student Voice representatives participated in a Student Voice and Mind Matters introduction day on Thursday, February 19.

The day was held to welcome the new Mind Matters representatives into their roles.

The Mind Matters program gives students the opportunity to undertake organisational and leadership roles and represent their fellow students, as well as discuss important issues young people in their school community face every day.

Each of the representatives across both years 11 and 12 headed to the Whyalla Yacht Club with school counsellor Noelene Gapp and Kathryn Hollingworth to take part in the program.

After an introduction game, member for Giles Eddie Hughes spoke to the students on his leadership journey into politics.

His speech gave an insight into the adversities many have to overcome in life and provoked a discussion on what the students have had to overcome in their lives.

The students then voted for which of their peers they would like to have as their school captains in both year 11 and 12 for the year.

Amelia Pudney and Bryden Atkinson were named the year 11 school captains after being voted in by their peers.

2014 Graeme Jose Award winner Ford King was named year 12 male captain while 2015 Australia Day Youth Citizen of the year award winner Kimberly Simmonds was named the female year 12 school captain.

Both Kimberly and Ford have strong leadership skills and commitment to their school community and are excited to lead Edward John Eyre High School through 2015.

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Riverside Drive safety decision deferred

Long-time safety campaigner Jess Arroyo, partner Matt Counsell and children Libby and Mikky. Picture: GEORGIA MATTSA DECISION on whether to retain the sole set of traffic lights in the Kiama municipality, as well as build a roundabout at Kiama Downs has been deferred.

The traffic lights at the intersection of Meehan Drive and Riverside Drive has been a divisive issue among residents, especially after the opening of the North Kiama bypass a decade ago reduced traffic volumes.

A Kiama council survey found ‘‘strong opposition’’ to the removal of the lights.

At the February council meeting, staff recommended to retain the lights and build a roundabout at the nearby intersection of Oxley Avenue and Riverside Drive.

However, Kiama councillors instead voted to defer the matter and return the issue to the Kiama Traffic Committee for comment.

Council’s report provided results of a public exhibition to gauge opinion on proposed new traffic facilities.

Council has allocated $90,000 in the 2014/15 budget for the implementation of new traffic facilities in Riverside Drive, in the vicinity of Oxley Avenue and Meehan Drive.

The plan needs to be referred to RMS for approval, because of the proposed removal of the traffic signals.

Staff also recommended that a design and cost estimate for a roundabout at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Gibraltar Avenue be prepared and submitted for consideration.

‘‘Council has received a number of complaints in the past that the traffic signals at the intersection of Meehan Drive/Riverside Drive are causing unnecessary delays for traffic from Meehan Drive turning into Riverside Drive,’’ council’s report stated.

Deputy mayor Warren Steel was disappointed by the community response, citing that of approximately 5000 people in the area just 25 provided input.

‘‘I have spoken to a couple of hundred people about this and the majority… wanted the lights to go.

‘‘I can’t believe this… what’s with the people of Gainsborough?’’

Cr Kathy Rice said compared with ‘‘the amount of noise’’ she had heard throughout the years regarding the traffic lights , she was ‘‘astounded’’ to find the removal of the lights wasn’t supported.

Cr Mark Way ‘‘totally disagreed’’ .

‘‘There’s a huge demand to have (the intersection of) Oxley Avenue as a roundabout,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve had other people suggest the traffic lights go of course, but the overwhelming majority in my case want the traffic lights to stay because of the safety of children crossing the road there.’’

Cr Way said people who supported removal of the lights wanted a roundabout installed at the Meehan Drive intersection, but when it was explained to them it was too small for a roundabout they preferred the option of keeping the lights over a proposed ‘‘seagull intersection’’.

‘‘I find it astronomical that people can worry about 15, 20, 30 seconds…. a minute they’ve got to wait at those lights to do something.’’

Cr Way said adjusting the timing of the lights and installing a ‘‘left turn on red permitted after stopping’’ sign would solve most problems.

Kiama Downs’ Jessica Arroyo has long advocated for the speed limit to be lowered to 50km/h on Riverside Drive, because of drag racing.

She believes a roundabout at the intersection of Gibraltar Avenue as well as Iluka Crescent will slow down traffic.

‘‘Even though there will be implementation of a roundabout at Oxley, we’ve still got that long stretch of road from Oxley to Bombo Hill,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s a waste of money putting the wrong roundabout in the wrong spot; the priorities are all over the shop.’’

Ms Arroyo and partner Matt Counsell believed the traffic signals should stay, despite being an ‘‘eyesore’’, citing their multi-purpose use by helping with both vehicle and foot traffic.

According to council’s report, with the proposed retention of the existing traffic signals at Meehan Drive likely to result in a cost saving to the budget allocation, there may be scope to utilise any savings towards a roundabout at Gibraltar Avenue.

‘‘However further survey, detailed design and community consultation would be required for the development of a roundabout at this location which may delay this work into the 2015/16 financial year,’’ the report states.

‘‘The proposed roundabout at the intersection of Oxley Avenue/Riverside Drive will slow down the southbound traffic into the residential area, however, a roundabout at Gibraltar Avenue is required to slow down the northbound traffic which will also create an opportunity for council to provide an integrated traffic management solution to accommodate community’s need for an on-street parking/cycle lane.’’

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