Women's Shelter manager Beverley Schimke wants more to be done to protect and assist victims Photo by: Trinette Stevens
Women's Shelter manager Beverley Schimke wants more to be done to protect and assist victims Photo by: Trinette Stevens

Demand far outstrippping availability at women's shelters

THE Rockhampton Women's Shelter can be forced to turn away 30 women a day living in domestic violence situations.

Beverley Schimke, the manager at the women's refuge, said it was common to have to deny women access to the facility due to the unmanageable demand.

"On-site we can take eight families at a time, and we have three off-site safe houses in the community for the larger families," she said.

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"We are constantly at capacity. At the moment we turn away around six a day, but it has been up to 30."

The shelter is the only one in the Rockhampton area, and is expected to service as far out as Longreach.

Ms Schimke said the demand forced staff to determine need based on severity.

"It's exactly like triage. We have to make the assessment based on who needs it the most... the assessment goes off a number of factors, including number of dependants, severity of abuse and immediate threat to life."

If women and their families can't be placed in the shelter for care they are instead referred to DVConnect, where they are commonly placed in a hotel to await accommodation placement.

DVConnect told Quentin Bryce's "Not Now Not Ever" report into family and domestic violence that it places between 10 and 20 women in hotels on a daily basis.

Of those placed, it reported that up to 37% returned to the abusive relationship.

The analysis detailed in the report concluded that the returns may be due to a "lack of support networks, counselling and referrals" available in hotels in comparison to a specialised support centre.

There have been no new funded refuges in Queensland in the past 20 years.

Recommendation 84 of the report detailed the need for an additional two 72-hour crisis centres in Brisbane and Townsville.



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