Esperance sees an increase in the number seeking family violence services

The number of Esperance residents affected by family violence and seeking Legal Aid services has increased by 50 per cent in one year.

The number rose from 58, in the 2017-2018 financial year, to 87 in 2018-2019.

The report tabled in parliament at the end of last month, found services had increased by 39 per cent in regional areas, higher than the overall WA increase.

Support services included duty lawyers, legal advice, safety planning and counselling.

Legal Aid family violence consultant Michael Hovane said the organisation had to increase its services in regional areas to keep up with demand.

Esperance Care Services is a local organisation that supports some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Chief executive officer Chris Meyer said the organisation had seen an increase in people affected by family violence seeking their help over the last year.

The charity has found the needs of victims were becoming more complex, including dealing with the court system, accessing Centrelink and finding housing.

"One of the biggest problems that we have, is that we don't have funding for someone to advocate for people in court or for dealing with Centrelink or with other agencies," Mr Meyer said.

"There really is a need for funding for more advocacy work. We have sought that sort of funding... But there is no funding around for that particular issue."

Esperance author and farmer Fleur McDonald founded the website Breaking the Silence (breakingthesilence.com.au) last year after hearing women tell their experiences of family violence as she travelled regional WA.

The site collates all relevant services in one easy to navigate place. Mrs McDonald said family violence was at "crisis levels across our community".

The website is active in Esperance and Albany and will receive $2.3 million at the end of October to expand into 10 other towns across WA.

Department of Communities acting assistant director Ben O'Rourke said Esperance was no exception to the domestic violence issues across WA.

Mr O'Rourke said the department was developing a long-term strategy to reduce family violence, which involved extensive consultation in regional WA.

  • If you have experienced violence and require immediate assistance, call 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732.
  • If you are concerned for your safety, contact Esperance Police on 9079 8999.
  • In an emergency situation call 000.