Domestic violence victims turned away as shelter struggles

STRESS MOUNTS: Felicia Collyer and Liz Gehring from the women’s refuge with Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell late last year.
STRESS MOUNTS: Felicia Collyer and Liz Gehring from the women’s refuge with Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell late last year. Cathy Adams

UPDATE 2.50pm: LISMORE MP Thomas George has said that a "service to the area is guaranteed" in relation to the plight of the Lismore Women's and Children's Refuge.

Mr George commented on this story below, stating:

"The Lismore Women's Refuge, funding has been allocated for the continuation of a service from the women's refuge in Lismore until June 2017 which is the same contracted end date as all NSW funded homelessness services across NSW.  A service to the area is guaranteed."


INITIAL REPORT: LISMORE Women and Children's Refuge is turning away about 35 desperate people every month due to a shortage of beds.

Refuge manager Liz Gehring said she feared these women and children were being forced to rough it, live in cars or return to violent households.

Her comments come amid continued funding worries for the Northern Rivers Women and Children's Services, which only has the State Government's financial backing until April next year.

Ms Gehring hoped it would not take a tragic death to finally prompt action.

MORE: Lismore MP accused of "smoke and mirrors" in promise to keep refuge

"It's all been raised and discussed and there's just no funding; no money allocated to the refuge," she said.

She said closure of the Lismore refuge would mean about 350 beds lost annually in a sector which was already short on beds.

About the Lismore Women's and Children's Refuge

  • One of the oldest in the state, it offers an escape for 350 victims of domestic violence a year
  • Over 30 years it has supported more than 10,000 women
  • Nearest refuges are more than an hour away in Tweed/Grafton

Ms Gehring said domestic violence incidents on the Northern Rivers had been mounting.

"It's getting worse and with the lack of services to provide immediate support, I think it will get worse still," she said.

MORE: Workers demand end to 'community services attack'

"But we need recurrent funding to stay afloat and there's no money coming from anywhere.

"We're losing staff because employment's going to run out here and everything's so uncertain."

In March, a day before the state election, Lismore MP Thomas George gave The Northern Star his "personal guarantee" the refuge would not close.

When contacted recently Mr George said: "Funding was extended for 12 months and I haven't got any up-to-date situation on that.

MORE: Domestic violence service cutbacks have 'failed' the community

"I can't forecast or indicate at this stage what's happening in April. As far as I was concerned, and I said that prior to the election, the funding has been extended (to April) and there might be changes of service provider."

Mr George said he would "raise the situation" with Pru Goward, the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.


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