Domestic Violence Helpline Given a Funding ‘Lifeline’
Hand Heart Pocket, an independent charity founded by the Freemasons of Queensland, announced on Monday they would be donating $120,000 to keep Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) call centre running until long-term funding from government could be secured.
WLSQ CEO Angela Lynch told Pro Bono News that the vital service for women living in Queensland experiencing domestic violence would have had to cease operations on July 1 unless the community reached out to save the service from going under.
“We are immensely grateful to Hand Heart Pocket for stepping in and providing critical assistance while we look to secure additional long-term government funding for this essential service,” Lynch said.
Lynch said the helpline which provides free and specialised domestic violence legal advice has been inundated with calls for assistance since it started a year ago, with just over 50 per cent of the phone calls getting through.
“The demand is obviously there,” Lynch said.
“Specialised DV legal advice is essential to enable victims to find safety for themselves and their children, often at or around the time of separation which is widely acknowledged as the most dangerous time.”
“With 71 women killed by domestic violence last year, one quarter of those in Queensland, this is no time to allow legal assistance to domestic violence victims to be cut.”
Lynch said the donation from Hand Heart Pocket will allow WLSQ to continue providing essential DV legal advice services to women in urban, regional and remote areas across the state.
She said the funds will also enable WLSQ to conduct community training in Emerald and Rockhampton and refresh its website to make information more easily accessible to those needing help.
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said his organisation was proud to support the vital service that had already helped more than 100,000 women and children affected by domestic violence in Queensland.
“Hand Heart Pocket believes in providing sustainable support by giving a hand up – not a handout – to communities, other charities and individuals,” Mark said.
“We look to fund initiatives that have real, life-changing potential to those most vulnerable in our community and are proud to partner with WLSQ to help affect change on this issue.”
“With domestic violence rates at an all-time high, it is more important than ever that the organisations providing frontline support can continue to keep up with the demand.”
Hana Nataprawira, a former client of WLSQ, said without the support of the service it would have been hard to put a stop to the abuse she experienced.
“Free services like this are crucial for women of all ages as it helps them to break free from the cycle they may find themselves in and to change their life for the better,” she said.
“I am so fortunate to have had the support of Women’s Legal Service and can’t begin to imagine the gap that will be left if the service is cut long-term.”
Lynch said WLSQ was in the process of applying for long-term government funding.