New regional service targets family violence

Ailish DelaneyBunbury Herald
Esperance-based author Fleur McDonald has launched a new family and domestic violence service for regional communities.
Camera IconEsperance-based author Fleur McDonald has launched a new family and domestic violence service for regional communities. Credit: Chelsea Templeton

A new support service dedicated to domestic and family violence has launched for regional Western Australia, with Bunbury among the 16 pilot areas.

DVassist launched last week to address the unique challenges people in regional communities face when trying to access information, advice and support to deal with family and domestic violence.

The service is in phase one, which involves the launch of an online information hub and directory to give advice, support and resources relevant to the location and situation.

Phase two will take place next month and see the establishment of a confidential domestic violence telephone counselling service for people in regional and rural communities.

The service’s founder, Esperance-based author Fleur McDonald was inspired to create DVassist after she was left disillusioned and frustrated by her personal experience trying to find timely and local information on family and domestic violence.

Ms McDonald decided there needed to be a resource that reflected the needs of regional communities across the State, so in 2017 she funded and set up an online information directory called Breaking the Silence, which aimed to draw together services for those affected by domestic violence in Esperance.

Now with the addition of a Federal Government grant, Ms McDonald has been able to expand the online service to become DVassist — a non-profit organisation focused on support for regional areas.

“I am incredibly grateful that Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt believed in the importance of funding a service like DVassist that specifically meets rural needs,” she said.

With one in four rural women experiencing some form of family and domestic violence in their lifetime, we need to create change and stop individuals from becoming statistics.

Ms McDonald said victims in regional communities faced different challenges and issues including social isolation, fear of community gossip, a lack of privacy and physical distance from services.

In addition to the South West, DVassist will roll out across the Kimberley, Pilbara, Goldfields, Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions.

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