A new helpline for domestic violence victims has been launched in Queensland after public campaigning and government support have encouraged more women to reach out, with some services seeing a 40 percent rise in demand.
Since the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence report was released in 2015, the Women’s Legal Service in Queensland have seen a 40 percent increase in women calling their service.
The new helpline -- launched last week -- will allow WLS to answer more than 50 percent of incoming calls, while they were only able to answer five percent of calls to their service last year.
“We took a leap of faith. We had a number of corporate supporters come on board in addition to the Queensland Attorney General’s grant of $100,000,” WLS coordinator Rosslyn Monro told The Huffington Post Australia.
"We felt it was important to improve our systems and get things moving.
“We are speaking to more women in danger and by speaking to more women, we can make a better assessment of women’s needs and consequently make a better assessment of the legal services they require.”
The helpline cost $200,000 to establish, with four new employees hired to sustain a five day per week service from 9am until 3pm.
Among the corporate supporters are Westpac, Slater and Gordon, McInnes Wilson Lawyers, Colin Biggers Paisley and Techproject.
As funding from the State Attorney General’s office only lasts until the end of the financial year, the helpline will require further support -- with WLS hoping they can gain more funding from corporate giants and the state government.
Domestic violence aid services have dealt with an onslaught of calls in 2016 -- with DV connect claiming over 2,000 victims called their service in the first four days of the year –- which is evidence the work of Rosie Batty, Dame Quentin Bryce and other domestic violence campaigners is in fact helping women build the courage to speak out.
In September, the Turnbull government announced a $100 million package to tackle domestic violence, while NSW Premier Mike Baird announced a $60 million package in October and appointed Pru Goward as the first state Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. Public discourse around the issue has followed.
“It’s brought new challenges because more women are seeking help," Munro told The Huffington Post Australia.
"So there is a greater demand on services, but it’s great that the issue has become part of the public discussion and it’s shed some light on what once was a hidden and unspoken problem.”