Thomas George
Thomas George

Women's refuge promised, but George fails to explain how

LISMORE MP Thomas George has been accused of "smoke and mirrors" over his promise that Lismore would retain a women's refuge.

It comes amid major funding changes to domestic violence services which will result in refuges for women closing across the state.

While the Lismore refuge was extended an 18-month funding lifeline, it will run out in April next year.

Last week Mr George told The Northern Star that he could personally guarantee Lismore would not lose its refuge, even if the current one had to shift premises.

Yesterday morning Mr George reiterated this guarantee and pledged he would make it happen, but refused to explain how it would be achieved.

Refuge manager Liz Gehring said her staff could not get an audience with Mr George despite making repeated requests.

Ms Gehring said Mr George had not spoken with her about any proposed funding commitment to the refuge.

"Thomas George says the refuge will stay open but not a cent has been allocated … and across the state the indications are they are closing.

"I cannot think it's any-thing but a ploy. If it was anything there would be more substance to it by now.

"The local Family and Community Services office has given us no indication we will have continuous funding.

"There hasn't even been any discussions with the contract holders."

In a last-ditch attempt to draw attention to the issue, staff rallied with supporters on Thursday in Magellan St.

Ms Gehring said at stake was the retention of a service in Lismore offering more than 100 years of combined frontline domestic violence experience.

"We get how to do this, we have a pretty good track record. We hope the community can step out and add their support to this campaign," Ms Gehring said. "If we don't, we're going to lose it."

She said towns which made an issue out of their refuges generally had kept them because it was politically inconvenient for the government.

Ms Gehring said the wider issue was about keeping women's crisis accommodation in specialist hands - instead of general homelessness services with people who had no specific experience with domestic violence.

She said the government failed to recognise that domestic violence victims needed tailored support and were often extremely traumatised.

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