NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb silenced the packed room at Rydges Norwest when she spoke at a recent fundraiser for DV Fundraiser support programs in the Hills.
DV Fundraiser cases
She said 60% of general duties policing is dealing with Domestic Violence cases and 50% of court cases were DV related. The Commissioner, who started her police career in Castle Hill, said police and the community needed to work together to prevent domestic violence.
“Be active listeners and try and see those subtle clues of people crying out for help.”
The sold out event raised a staggering $43,478 with the funds going to assist with setting up transitional housing in Kenthurst for older women and to support DV programs and initiatives run by Hills Community Aid (HCA).
Mici Beer, Executive Officer with HCA said the increase in figures for people seeking help had increased dramatically since pre-COVID times.
“We have seen a 310% increase in victims presenting to HCA since 2019. Through our services we work to with victims and their children providing immediate financial assistance, assist with transitioning to permanent accommodation with rent or bond payments, refer to government crisis and on-going support programs like Start Safely and provide peer and personal support to ensure people have as much relevant information and support to set them up for success and to recover.”
She gave examples of people who had been helped in DV Fundraiser, including Marg and Deepa (not their real names).
• Marg came to HCA in July last year after feeling her home and staying in hotels and temporary accommodation for several weeks. She has 16-year-old twins and an 18-year-old son with disabilities. She worked hard and was not eligible for many crisis support programs.
Through HCA she was given food vouchers, freeing up funds for other expenses. She was also provided with 2 week’s rent (from The Hills Homeless Prevention Initiative) and paid her initial power bill from The Bridging the Gap program.
• Deepa, a woman of Indian background, left an abusive relationship and lived in her car with her two young children for 11 days. When she approached HCA they were initially able to help with financial support to pay for food, medication and essential services.
She was linked to crisis and case management services and attends HCA peer support programs and education sessions including the Uplift Program. Deepa said the program was invaluable for her and other women going through trauma who has lost their “self worth”
Terese Wilson from Kenthurst Rotary Club talked about the importance of transitional housing for older women saying she was 63 when she left a long marriage and found herself having to start again.
Bev Baker from the Older Women’s Network said transitional housing provides a safe haven for women on the run. “We are a rich country, we should be able to look after our most vulnerable.”
According to figures Released by the Australian Human Rights Commission the number of women aged between 55 and 74 years old seeking support from homelessness services has increased by 55 % in the past decade.
Chair of the fundraising organising committee Dr Michelle Byrne thanked the NSW Police Commissioner for her time and encouragement and thanked sponsors.
“Thank you to all the many generous individuals and local businesses who put their hands into their own pocket particularly the Rydges Norwest for hosting the event.
“All of the funds raised will be used to support women who have or who are experiencing domestic violence on the path to a rebuilding their lives and creating a future for themselves that is free of abuse. “
Big donations on the night were made by CEO of Merc Capital Toni Merhi who donated $5000 which was matched by $5000 from Merc Real Estate followed by a $1000 donation from the Powerful Empowered Women’s group.