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News : Family Violence Contact Centre Fielding 6500 Cries for Help per Month


Melbourne, Australia, Feb 18, 2020 -- Victoria's new family violence contact centres are fielding 6500 cries for help each month, but three out of the five specialist courts are beset by building delays.

The Andrews government has so far implemented 143 of the 227 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence but the sector has "consistently" raised concerns about the workforce's ability to meet current and future demand.

Increased community awareness of family violence is heaping pressure on the system, according to the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor's report tabled in State Parliament on Tuesday.

One of the key recommendations from the royal commission was specialist family violence courts. The report revealed the Shepparton court opened in September and the Ballarat court in November. Moorabbin is set to open next month, while Heidelberg and Frankston courts are forecast to open in November.

In her report, implementation monitor Jan Shuard said the Magistrates Court's Family Violence Contact Centre, which was a key recommendation of the royal commission and started in May 2018, was receiving about 6500 inquiries a month. These inquiries were previously managed by individual courts.

"The contact centre is providing a more timely and accessible service to the public, as well as creating efficiencies by freeing up staff time at local courts," Ms Shuard said in the report.

Ms Shuard lauded the state government for "demonstrating an acute awareness" that workforce resourcing could pose major roadblocks to the industry's reform, including a $6 million funding injection to help double the number of workers in the field.

That funding, announced in November, is going towards 1000 additional student placements in family violence and community organisations.

"It is not expected that all 227 recommendations will be completed when the monitoring ends on November 1, 2020," Ms Shuard said.

"My goal is to provide an independent account of progress made at this time and advise on the stability of the structure as the building blocks all fit together."

But she said she was "particularly impressed by the extensive whole-of-government structures".

The state government has been contacted for comment.


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

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