HELPING FAMILIES: Labor candidate for Dawson Belinda Hassan with Dr Anne Butcher from Mackay Women's Services.
HELPING FAMILIES: Labor candidate for Dawson Belinda Hassan with Dr Anne Butcher from Mackay Women's Services. Caitlan Charles

Mackay to share in $660m for domestic violence

WITH Mackay's domestic violence figures higher than the national average, according to Mackay Women's Service, Labor's latest election promise to double funding could be life-changing for many in the community.

The $660million commitment will double the Federal Government's national funding for the Fourth Action Plan to prevent and respond to family violence.

Labor's Dawson candidate Belinda Hassan said this funding could make a real difference to the women, men and children impacted by domestic violence.

Having worked in the domestic violence sector for more than 10 years, Ms Hassan said she was proud of this announcement and would fight for Mackay to get what it needed.

"When you're caught up in the frightening, dangerous ordeal of family violence, what you need is practical help, real money and concrete support on the front line,” she said.

Dr Anne Butcher, executive director of Mackay Women's Services, said on average 1.6 women were murdered every week at the hands of a current or former partner.

She said the lack of refuges for women had a flow-on effect, limiting the services that were available.

With more intermediate and long-term accommodation available, Dr Butcher said crisis accommodation would be freed up.

"It's a huge issue in the country and in this community,” she said.

The current domestic violence shelter in Mackay can only hold four women and children.

Dr Butcher said they did receive funding from the State Government to help with safety measures for people in a domestic violence situation, but added there was a funding gap.

"At a minimum, we provide surveillance cameras and change locks ... but a lot of women who live in lower-standard of housing, they might not have fly screens, let alone security screens, so we may need to screen the house,” she said.

"For safety security upgrades, we could probably do with double what we get now, we currently get $28,000 from the State Government, double that would be extremely helpful. Accommodation services would be the highest expense for us, that could be building or purchasing housing stock, and it has to be suitable, you can't have it all located in one area.

"I don't have a dollar figure to put on that but I imagine it would be at least a couple of million, if not more.”

In 2017-18, there were 620 breaches of a domestic violence per order 100,000 people in the Mackay region, in comparison 292 per 100,000 people on the Sunshine Coast.

Dr Butcher said breaking the generational cycle of violence that childre had grown up in could help reduce the level of domestic violence in the community.

"We do have a high rate here, and I think some of the reasons for that relate to ... the cycles we see in our economy, the stress that places on relationships, but fundamentally I think domestic violence is about power and control over another,” she said.

"I haven't got a definitive answer as to why it's higher here, but I think there is more we can do to address the issue.”

  • $60m for 20,000 flexible support packages over four years. This will help with the barriers a woman faced leaving a violent relationship and can be tailored to help women with rent, furniture, transport, medication and more.
  • $88m over two years for a new Safe Housing Fund to increase transitional housing options for woman and children escaping domestic and family violence.
  • $18m over three years to 2021-22 to ensure keeping Women Safe in Their Homes continues.
  • $90m for Preventing Family Violence Legal Service Fund.