A crowdfunding campaign is calling on Australians to help keep a domestic violence helpline up-and-running after the funding which enabled staff to answer 700 percent more calls is now running dry.
The Queensland Women’s Legal Service (WLS) helpline could only answer five percent of incoming calls before it received a $100,000 grant from the state attorney-general. With an increase in staffing and technology upgrades, the helpline has answered more calls in the first few months of 2016 than in the whole of 2015.
The helpline, which helps domestic violence victims claim their legal rights once leaving a relationship, needs another $100,000 to keep helpline running until mid-2017.
WLS coordinator Rosslyn Monro told The Huffington Post Australia many women leaving violent relationships don’t pursue -- or struggle to claim -- their rights because of the power imbalance they’ve long endured.
“I would see our service as being post crisis but being critical to maintaining long term safety,” Monro said.
“We know that many of the tragedies that occur with domestic violence are not while women are in the relationship, it’s post separation.
“Sometimes it can be months or years after separation that some women are killed because the more that they’re seen to be getting on with their life and moving on from him, the more dangerous it becomes.
“We know that safe separation is a long term process when there’s violence, so women will need to continue to work with their ex-partner around children, around property and making sure that they can do that safely.”
The crowdfunding campaign comes as community legal services across the nation unite in a national campaign to fight federal funding cuts.
Community lawyers met with federal MPs in Canberra on Wednesday to argue their case against $11-12 million cuts nationally each year from 2017 to 2020.
“On the national stage, community legal centres are facing a 30 per cent cut as of 2017.. we just eat further and further into what are already stretched services,” Munro told HuffPost Australia.
“We know that for community legal centres across Australia, the top two issues we provide assistance in is family law and family violence. So not only are there other specialist legal services, there are other legal services dealing with either the impacts of violence directly or the impacts of violence indirectly from a legal perspective.”