The problem will be among concerns raised by more than 40 advocates at a Government-organised roundtable on domestic violence on Friday. Fears have been raised that mothers who are victims of family violence are being punished by authorities for staying.
Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement chief executive Cheryl Axelby said the proportion of cases brought to her organisation, where a child is removed from a mother who is a victim of domestic violence, had spiked from 20 per cent to 60 per cent of the case load.
“That’s a real concern, the number of mothers who are being targeted … in regard to their family violence situation, where they are victims,” she said.
Ms Axelby said many women represented by the ALRM were “too scared to leave their (abusive) relationship” but authorities were not “taking the time to support the mother or looking at what other family supports could be available to her.
“They’re just removing the children and then the mother has to fight to get the kids back, which increases the trauma for the child,” she said.
“Instead of just removing the child, (authorities should be) supporting her to get housing or support so that her children are protected.”
The Liberals promised ahead of last month’s election to hold a discussion on solutions to tackling domestic violence within 100 days, if elected.
Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Carolyn Habib said attendees would discuss funding certainty, crisis accommodation and a 24/7 helpline.
Women’s Legal Service SA CEO Zita Ngor stressed that perpetrators of violence “need to be held accountable” and authorities should not put “the onus on female caregivers, who are … victims themselves, to … protect their children”.
“Many perpetrators use the legal system to ensnare their victims in often protracted (family law) legal disputes sometimes over the most trivial of matters,” she added.
The Child Protection Department has previously said it tries to keep children with the “non-offending” parent when family violence is a cause for removal, but there are times when a child might be taken from a victimised parent if the home cannot be made safe.
Catherine House chief executive Louise Miller Frost said her organisation needed an extra $108,000 a year for four more beds in its emergency accommodation program.
Victim Support Service chief executive Madge Mc-Guire wants the Government to renew funding for the Safely Together program, which was trialled in 2016 but discontinued. It provided trauma counselling and home visits for mothers and children.
“If you don’t invest in the children when they have had exposure to that level of violence, what is the impact as they grow up?” she said.
Zahra Foundation Australia general manager Kylie O’Callaghan will raise the need for more interpreters to meet growing demand from women of non-English speaking backgrounds.
She was also concerned about “a lack of affordable and accessible child care options creating barriers for women accessing our programs”.
YWCA Adelaide chief executive Liz Forsyth wanted to see more investment in prevention.
Read More: News.com.au
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