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Empowering change

Tuesday, 12th February, 2008

The loss of a local anti-domestic violence worker will be cushioned by the appointment of two senior level officers who can better help victims, according to the NSW Department for Women. However, it hasn't been announced yet whether either of the two officers will be stationed in Broken Hill.

A restructuring of anti-domestic violence staff has resulted in the formation of the "Prevention of Violence Against Women Unit" by the NSW Department for Women. It means 24 anti-domestic violence workers will be replaced by 18 senior domestic violence workers who will co-ordinate services across different agencies. Local MP John Williams said it would result in the loss of the city's only anti-domestic violence worker in return for more bureaucrats in Sydney.

He said the "shocking" decision would have an adverse impact on the lives of women in his electorate. The restructure represents a shift to "empower" staff on the ground and help victims of domestic violence, said Kate Meagher, spokeswoman for NSW Minister for Women, Verity Firth. "Victims can go to one officer who can then talk to different agencies on their behalf."

She said this meant victims would not have to "re-tell" their experience to a number of different service providers, leading to a smoother legal process and ultimately greater support for victims. The restructure will also include an extra 40 police officers specifically trained in the area of domestic violence. "They will be locally based and their focus will be to deal with domestic and family violence issues," said Ms Meagher.

She said the restructure will result in two of the 18 senior officers being appointed to the western region. Their location has not been decided but Ms Meagher said the two will report to a regional director in Dubbo. "Their physical location has yet to be determined...we're a few months away from that yet. "I can't say they're going to located in Broken Hill, that's still being worked out."

Ms Meagher said no-one will be sacked as a result of the restructure. "They'll be given the option to look for something else in the Public Service or voluntary redundancy."

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