The State Government has committed $600,000 a year to establish a metropolitan legal service for indigenous victims of family violence, including people who had been sexually abused or those at immediate risk of such violence.
Premier Colin Barnett said the initiative formed part of the Liberal-National Government’s ongoing reforms to help victims of domestic violence.
“Indigenous females and males are, respectively, 35 and 22 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence compared to non-indigenous Australians,” Mr Barnett said.
“There are several family violence services for indigenous people in regional and remote Western Australia, but no dedicated service in the metropolitan area. This new service will close the gap and provide legal support and counselling to Perth’s indigenous population.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates about 40 per cent of the State’s Aboriginal population of 70,000 resides in the metropolitan area.
Attorney General Michael Mischin said advice from Legal Aid WA and the Aboriginal Legal Service indicated a need for services dedicated to victims of family violence.
“Legal Aid WA and the Aboriginal Legal Service both confirm that they are frequently conflicted and unable to assist victims of family violence and/or sexual assault because the same services were representing the accused,” Mr Mischin said.
The Attorney General said the service would focus on violence prevention and victim support; promote respectful relationships; and change attitudes to violence.
“Victim services will include legal advice and information; community legal education; court representation for family violence and sexual assault assaults; advocacy and assistance to complete and lodge legal documents; and sexual abuse counselling,” he said.
“Research by the Australian Institute of Criminology supports the need for culturally sensitive services when dealing with family violence, particularly because it is often the family relationships themselves that pose the most significant barrier to indigenous women receiving counselling, legal and medical support services.”
The service, to be operated by a suitable not-for-profit organisation, is expected to be in place by May 2013.
Liberal-National Govt launched WA’s first official Victims of Crime website - http://www.victimsofcrime.wa.gov.au/ - to bring together a range of information, advice, support and services
Government has allocated $6.8million to enable women and children to remain safely in their homes following domestic violence incidents
This financial year, the Government also provided $19.8million, through the national agreements on homelessness and housing, for 37 accommodation and support services for women and children escaping domestic and family violence
Premier’s office - 6552 5000
Attorney General’s office - 6552 5600