Labor has joined with local public servants to petition the Government to save a vital specialist domestic and family violence case management and referral service co-located with Central Coast police.

Labor’s Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Jenny Aitchison joined local state MPs Liesl Tesch (Gosford), David Mehan (The Entrance) and David Harris (Gosford) to meet with Public Service Association members on Wednesday to launch a petition against the changes, after receiving inadequate responses from the Government about why the service was going to close.

Central Coast Integrated Domestic and Family Violence Service (known as CCADVICE) was launched in October 2010 to provide specialist case management and referral services to victims and survivors of domestic and family violence. Working closely with police, social workers and psychologists support victims and survivors to report crimes, and go through the court process. A similar service operates under the auspices of the Dubbo Local Area Command, and in Nowra under the auspices of the PCYC.

The NSW Police Force’s Northern Region formally advised the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) in May 2017 of its decision to relinquish funding for the CCADVICE program from 30 September when existing staff will be sacked and the new provider will take over. Staff employed in the service have had their access to computer systems cut, and have noticed a dwindling number of referrals since the announcement. There are concerns that key partnerships with relevant stakeholders to deliver integrated services on the Central Coast are at risk.

The Government has tried to justify the changes by saying that:

“Under the Safer Pathways process, all domestic violence incidents reported to the NSW Police Force are now referred to the nearest Women’s Domestic Court Advocacy Service. This replaces previous direct referral arrangements between the police and CCADVICE.”

However, the Safer Pathways model (attached) does have provision for direct referrals to service providers such as CCADVICE by the police, as well as supporting victims with an existing relationship with a Domestic and Family Violence or other specialist service to continue to be supported by that service.

Quotes attributable to Jenny Aitchison MP, Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence:

“Yet again we see the Government tweaking its Safer Pathways Model on the run, sacking dedicated workers in the sector, and leaving huge gaps in relationships with stakeholders.”

“CCADVICE is an innovative service which provides high level support to victims and survivors of domestic and family violence. The decision to relinquish the funding will mean a huge loss of expertise on the Coast and a lost opportunity for greater collaboration between Police and the sector.”

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