Claudia Baxter

Suicide fears for victims holed up in motels

IT'S just a matter of time before a domestic violence victim who is forced to seek refuge in a motel room kills herself, frontline workers believe.

They're becoming increasingly concerned about the fragile mental health of women holed up in motels because their homes are not safe and there is no specialist emergency accommodation available for them.

In Queensland, DVConnect sends at least 33 women a day to motels and, in New South Wales, the government spent about $14million in 12 months on housing people in crisis in motels and caravan parks.

READ MORE: Radical plan to help victims of abuse: open our homes

Toni Meyer, a DVConnect clinical manager, said being confined to a strange room with little or no outside contact could be soul-destroying.

"Last week we had two young women who were feeling that they couldn't go on," Ms Meyer said.

"It's not unusual for us to have women feeling that way.

"Being in the isolation of the motel and the uncertainty of leaving their home, feeling extremely fearful and not being able to go somewhere to get face-to-face support - it wears women down."

From next week, a DVConnect outreach worker will visit motel-bound victims.

Domestic Violence NSW chief executive officer Moo Baulch said motel rooms were no replacement for specialised housing offering trauma support.

"Ideally we would want the system to respond to women and children who are impacted by DV to provide trauma specialist responses," Ms Baulch said.

Homelessness Australia chief executive officer Glenda Stevens said if Canberra committed $33 million today to refuges the need for motels could be wiped out.

"The fundamental health of a victim is paramount and a lot of women are in very precarious mental health positions when they leave the violence," Ms Stevens said.

"This is about having more money for permanent solutions."

If you are concerned about your own or someone's mental health, phone Lifeline on 131114.



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