UNCERTAIN FUTURE: From left, Northern Rivers Women and Children’s Services executive officer Felicia Collyer, Northern Rivers Women and Children’s Services manager Liz Gehring, and Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell. The future of the Lismore Women and Children’s Refuge remains under a cloud, despite interim funding.
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: From left, Northern Rivers Women and Children’s Services executive officer Felicia Collyer, Northern Rivers Women and Children’s Services manager Liz Gehring, and Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell. The future of the Lismore Women and Children’s Refuge remains under a cloud, despite interim funding. Cathy Adams

Future of Lismore domestic violence refuge still in doubt

ON WHITE Ribbon Day, the future of a domestic violence crisis accommodation centre in Lismore hangs in the balance.

Earlier this year The Northern Star reported the Lismore Women and Children's Refuge was under threat of closure after funding reforms by the NSW Government allowed no money for women's crisis accommodation in Lismore.

Thankfully some urgent behind-the-scenes lobbying managed to keep the refuge's doors open for up to 18 months, but its long-term future remains uncertain.

Lismore has since been named as one of eight "hotspots" across the state where a loss of services could be devastating.

The Lismore/Casino/Ballina area has one of the highest reported rates of domestic violence in NSW, and the refuge has been operating successfully since 1978.

The nearest refuges are more than an hour away in Grafton and Tweed Heads.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell welcomed the interim funding but said the cuts had already led to the loss of experienced staff whose specific skills were irreplaceable.

"We need the services that support women and children at the most vulnerable times of their lives," she said. "It's great to see that arrangements for interim funding are in progress, but it's really important that it's long-term."

Staff at the refuge are not able to speak publicly about the issue. The refuge provides a bed for some 350 women and children every year, but its services are not limited to crisis accommodation.

It also runs early intervention support for up to 400 women each year, a court support service, a 24/7 crisis phone service, and employs six full-time staff.



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