A crucial support service is returning to the South West, following a 10-month hiatus due to a lack of funding. Confidential support hotline DVassist has relaunched in the South West, offering telephone and web-chat counselling for people experiencing family or domestic violence. Being a completely anonymous program, participants are able to “silently” seek specialist help and advice regardless of their location and without compromising their safety or privacy. Having received grant funding from the Australian Communities Foundation in partnership with Paul Ramsay Foundation, the non-profit was able to revive its vital counselling service for people living in regional, rural and remote WA. DVassist board director Lachlan Hunter said he hoped that by reinstating the program, people in need would be able to more easily access support. “It removes the fear that ‘everyone in a small community will know you have sought help’, which is a significant barrier to people reaching out for family and domestic violence support,” he said. “The multi-session, confidential counselling we offer is free, there is no wait list for our services, and you don’t need a GP mental health plan to access our help. “We have the experience, the skilled team and the understanding of life in regional, rural and remote areas of WA to make a difference now and urge the State Government to help us expand our opening hours in response to the current family and domestic violence crisis.” It comes after the WA family and domestic violence sector last week announced its intent to hold urgent crisis talks with the State Government following the violent deaths of two women in the Perth area. Mr Hunter said he hoped people struggling would take up the free service now it was available to them again. “As we have tragically seen over the past fortnight, family and domestic violence shatters lives,” he said. “We need people living in the regions to know there is support available from someone who understands the unique challenges they face and most importantly there is hope and recovery.” DVassist’s web chat is available via dvassist.org.au and the helpline via 1800 080 083, Monday to Thursday, 8am-8pm.