Glen Innes workers urge awareness of potential victims

Pat Urquhart (front). Back, left to right: Laurie Newsome, Louise Morley, Remi Kupoluyi.
Pat Urquhart (front). Back, left to right: Laurie Newsome, Louise Morley, Remi Kupoluyi.

Domestic violence counsellors and campaigners have been mounting an awareness raising campaign in Glen Innes.

From a stall in Grey Street, they’ve been spreading the word about its unacceptability and about what services are available to victims.

The coordinator of “Safe in our Town”, Dr Louise Morley, said: “We want people to start a dialogue about the issue of domestic and family violence.

“We want people to acknowledge that it exists and to develop more support for people in the community who might be experiencing it.”

Earlier in the year, figures were published which indicated that Glen Innes had one of the worst records of domestic violence in the state  

According to the campaigning group, Domestic Violence NSW, the town and the surrounding area had 106 incidents in 2016, making it the third worst across the state.  Only the Moree Plains and Kempsey had worse results. 

The group said the figures were compiled from official statistics.

It blamed a switch of resources away from helping domestic violence victims in Glen Innes towards combating homelessness in general.

The reasons for the high incidence are complex, according to the people who help the victims.

Domestic violence isn’t confined to any one ethnic group but the factors prompting it may differ between groups.

“Any culture which has a lot of inter-generational pain will involve a lot of domestic abuse”, said Christine Bird, who has campaigned against domestic violence for forty years.

But she also said that there were particular problems for white families in rural areas like Glen Innes.

She told the Examiner that women in country areas found it harder to walk out on an abusive partner.  The availability of support was less.  It was easier to elude a partner in a city.

And she said: “White people are a lot more skilled at hiding it.”

“People are more isolated and it’s much harder to leave”, she said.

One of the problems is that there have been changes in the way victims are helped.  According to Domestic Violence Safety NSW, most domestic violence refuges have been turned into more general places for the homeless which have to accommodate men as well:  “In 2014, Glen Innes Severn provided a 24 hour refuge for single women, and women and children escaping domestic violence.”