Service cutbacks have ‘failed’ the community

LOCAL domestic violence services have been cut back by the NSW Government despite the region having some of the worst domestic violence rates in the state.

Lismore service Women Up North has lost the administration of almost half of its houses reserved for recovering victims of domestic violence, falling from 20 houses in Lismore, Casino and Ballina to 12.

Meanwhile, a specialised domestic violence refuge for Aboriginal women, Bugalma Bihyn, has gone from four full-time staff and a manager to just two part-time staff.

And the future of the Lismore Women's Refuge is under a cloud despite being granted an 18-month funding lifeline late last year.

Former Women Up North case manager Beth Shelley, who lost her job in the shake-up, said the houses it lost were transferred to generalist homelessness services.

"It's a shemozzle," Ms Shelley said.

"Essentially it's a cost-cutting exercise - the government wants everyone to amalgamate so they can deal with less organisations.

"But apart from Women Up North and the Lismore refuges, there's not a lot of services experienced with helping women with DV."

Greens MP Adam Guise said the NSW Government's Going Home Staying Home reforms had "failed" the community.

"Services are at crisis point in the Northern Rivers and urgent action is required to address the situation," he said."They're trying to force one-size-fits-all when we really need specialised services.

"You can't expect women and families to go back to violent situations - they can't always go home. This forces people into homelessness."

Minister for Family and Community Services Gabrielle Upton was contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline.



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