The Women’s Legal Service WA (WLSWA) will launch a fly-in-fly-out legal service to support women survivors of domestic violence in regional WA amidst a horrifying rise in family assault cases.
According to ABC News, domestic and family assaults in the Pilbara region have increased by more than 200 per cent over the last decade, with 1,963 incidents reported in 2022, compared to 610 in 2012.
In South Hedland, domestic assaults have risen by 362 per cent in the past eight years. For regional WA, family assaults have increased by 238 per cent, compared to 142 per cent in Perth.
When you compare the raw numbers for Perth (14,000 family assaults last year) vs. regional WA (12,000 family assaults last year), things look even more concerning: those numbers are way too close given a difference in population of about 2.2 million people.
Factor in staffing shortages at local services and a lack of housing affordability, and it’s perhaps unsurprising (though still upsetting) that local services are struggling to address the issue.
That’s why WLSWA has unveiled its new initiative to fly in lawyers and social workers from Perth to other areas of WA to help service women survivors of domestic assault and tackle complex needs that local support services might not have capacity for.
While chief executive Jennie Gray acknowledged it’s not ideal to have a fly-in-fly-out model, it was the only feasible option.
“It is a FIFO model, because like other agencies, we also couldn’t recruit locally and we didn’t have the housing to support those workers,” she said.
“Our workers aren’t there all of the time, but they are there a lot of the time, which allows them to establish the trust and relationships they need to deliver an effective service.”
On top of highlighting the dire need for something to be done about domestic violence in WA, these stats should also urge the local and federal government to fix the housing crisis — because as we can see, the lack of housing affordability doesn’t just influence rates of homelessness, but also domestic violence in that it impacts who can live where and what support they can access or receive.