Domestic violence support coming to Bunbury

Country support: Breaking the Silence was founded by Esperance author Fleur McDonald and is set to expand to Bunbury in the coming months.
Country support: Breaking the Silence was founded by Esperance author Fleur McDonald and is set to expand to Bunbury in the coming months.

Bunbury will be one of 14 country towns and cities to be supported by a new program providing crucial help to victims of domestic violence. Esperance author Fleur McDonald's website, Breaking the Silence, is set to expand throughout regional WA, after the Federal Government committed $2.3 million to the initiative over the next three years. 

Breaking the Silence is an online resource which brings together services available for those affected by domestic violence into one easy to navigate site. 

The website was launched in Esperance in June 2018 and expanded to Albany later that year.

The funding will enable the website to extend access, ensure 24/7 domestic violence counselling, improve case management for victims and perpetrators, provide peer support for victims and improve analysis of data at a local level. 

Ms McDonald said the website was already getting quite a lot of hits on a daily basis in Esperance and Albany. 

"The pages that we're seeing getting the most hits are counselling, accommodation and drug and alcohol support," she said.

South West Refuge acting chief executive Doreen Ferretti said they welcomed any tool that would assist women and children experiencing or escaping family and domestic violence and looked forward to South West programs and organisations being added to the site. 

Ms McDonald said the website's board was excited to have received funding to expand their services. 

"The online counselling is going to be incredibly important and we are going to create peer support groups as well," she said. 

"People that have been or are experiencing the same types of problems speak with the same language and won't have to explain things."

Ms McDonald said she received regular feedback from website users who had found the resource helpful with both police and GP's finding the site helpful to refer people to. 

If you have experienced violence and require immediate assistance, contact 1800 RESPECT.