VincentCare’s Shepparton-based, 24-hour service has just come through its busiest period.
Marian Community figures show that from September to November the agency struggles to meet demand.
“Waiting lists for non-urgent cases can blow out to two weeks in these times,” Marian Community Coordinator Nicole Robinson said of the crisis accommodation requests for women escaping family violence.
Ms Robinson said December to January was harder to predict.
“Many families try to hold it together for the family and have a happy Christmas but generally, due to overspending, by February we start to get busy again.”
Mounting evidence suggests that there are regular spikes in family violence that coincide with major events and the festive season. Research also suggests that consumption of alcohol at parties celebrating the end of year celebrations result in an increase in family and intimate partner assaults, not all of them reported to police
VincentCare CEO Quinn Pawson said the community, government and the health and community sector must address alcohol consumption, which may exacerbate violent behaviour.
“However, we have to be mindful that we do not label alcohol as the underlying cause of family violence. Power and control is the leading issue, not alcohol.”
Figures show on average, one woman a week was killed by a current or former partner. One man a month is killed by their current or former partner.
Almost 40 per cent of specialist homelessness service clients have experienced family and domestic violence, a 70 per cent increase in the past four years, according to the state’s peak body, Council to Homeless Persons (CHP).
Mr Pawson said VincentCare’s city-based refuge and Marian Community, the Hume service, both report high levels of need for their services.
“There is not enough short-term, crisis housing for families and partners escaping violence. Just as importantly, there is not enough long-term, affordable housing available for people to be able to be permanently placed in their preferred location, which means timely exits are also very difficult.”
For help call Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).