THE head of the region’s Centre Against Sexual Assault will speak for centres throughout the state in Melbourne today.
Loddon Campaspe CASA chief executive Kate Wright will join the leaders of peak bodies responding to family violence to bring their election priorities to the seat of Victoria’s political power.
Their aim is to ensure the important work being done continues, regardless of which party is elected to government on November 24.
VICTORIAN family violence and sexual assault service providers and prevention agencies have banded together to ensure ending violence remains a priority for the next state government.
Domestic Violence Victoria, No To Violence, Gender Equity Victoria and the Centre Against Sexual Assault Forum will today launch Unite Against Family Violence, a campaign calling on all political parties to commit to funding and implementing all 227 of the recommendations by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault chief executive Kate Wright will represent CASA Forum during Monday’s event on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne.
The CASA Forum has also formulated its own priorities for the state election. The first priority on the specialist sexual assault service provider’s list is a statewide sexual assault strategy and action plan.
The CASA Forum said the plan should align with, but further develop, the work recommended by the Royal Commission.
An entire chapter in the Royal Commission’s findings, which were handed down in March 2016, was devoted to sexual assault and family violence.
Ms Wright said almost 70 per cent of the Loddon Campaspe CASA’s clients had experienced family violence.
The service provider had 970 clients in the past financial year, assisting 730 people in the City of Greater Bendigo.
Children and young people under the age of 18 made up 42 per cent of Loddon Campaspe CASA’s clients.
“Every CASA has a waitlist,” Ms Wright said.
The wait for services in Loddon Campaspe was about two to three months, at the time of writing.
The CASA Forum’s other priorities speak to the demand for services and call for resourcing to be not only maintained, but enhanced to ‘enable timely responses to escalating demand’.
It is seeking to offer more therapeutic services to women and children who have experienced family violence.
One metropolitan CASA was experiencing almost double the number of Crisis Care Unit calls outs it was five years ago, according to the CASA Forum.
Meanwhile, demand for the same services in a regional CASA’s service area almost quadrupled.
“In Bendigo ours are increasing, but not to that extent,” Ms Wright said.
She said calls for crisis support from adult clients had increased by 25 per cent in the past year.
“We know it’s underreported,” Ms Wright said.
She believed one of the factors contributing to the increase in demand for services, statewide, was that people were becoming more confident with reporting sexual assault and family violence.
“We should be proud of how far we’ve come,” Ms Wright said.
A forum, to be staged in Melbourne on October 24, seeks to ensure progress continues to be made regardless of the outcome of the state election.
Both the Minister for Women and the Prevention of Family Violence, Natalie Hutchins, and the Shadow Minister for Families and Children and Prevention of Family Violence, Georgie Crozier, are expected to participate, along with Victorian Greens Spokesperson for Family Violence Huong Truong.
Candidates will be quizzed on their party’s plans for ending violence against women and their children if they are elected to form government on November 24.
The forum is free of charge and runs from noon – 2.30pm at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre. Attendees are required to register before the event.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732 or www.1800respect.org.au) or the Sexual Assault Crisis Line (1800 806 292).
For Loddon Campaspe CASA, call 5441 0430.
In an emergency, call 000.
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