Transport help for local women, and children fleeing domestic violence

The Southern Women’s Group Inc. and Women’s Resource Centre has received funding for a transport project that will help women and children fleeing domestic violence and also those in the Bega Valley who are in need of transport assistance for counselling, court, medical appointments and shopping.

The Bega Valley Shire has little public transport and the group’s clients may often be situated in isolated towns or without access to private or public transport due low socio-economic circumstances.

The project assists women and children who are transport disadvantaged by not being able to access private or public transport when escaping and/or recovering from domestic violence situations. The target group includes women living in isolated towns of the Bega Valley Shire, who may not have a driver’s license and/or are disadvantaged through socio-economic circumstances.

Local domestic violence workers will provide clients with travel vouchers, on an individual needs basis, to facilitate their access to services and support as they require. Depending on the situation either clients or staff will be given vouchers to pay for bus tickets or taxi fares. Also depending on the situation of the clients there may or may not be a co-contribution to the cost of the transport.

Gabrielle Powell, co-ordinator at the Women's Resource Centre said: “There are a host of reasons why transport is problematic in these situations, such as lack of family or social support, access to a vehicle, affordability of taxis and the availability of bus services when an opportunity to escape the situation may present itself. It is well understood by domestic violence service providers and social workers that transport disadvantage is a significant factor preventing women and children in domestic violence situations from accessing services and support. In addition for mothers with one or more children the need to take support belongings such as clothes, bedding, a pram can add to the physical difficulties of co-ordinating a safe removal from the situation.”

The project will work closely with the Bega Valley Community Transport Service and the existing travel voucher system. Vouchers will be available from the Women’s Resource Centre and community service staff will need to arrange to pick up vouchers for their clients.

Significant geographic isolation combined with lower than average incomes, employment levels and access to private transport equates to widespread transport disadvantage across the region, Ms Powell said.

The project will:

* Provide range of options using mainstream bus and taxi services to coordinate transport assistance for women and children experiencing domestic violence

* In addition the vouchers will be used to support client’s needs to attend appointments and access support services such as Housing, Family Courts within and outside the shire.

* Provide a cashless and accountable system that is easy to administrate and use.

For more information about the Bega Valley domestic violence transport project contact Gabrielle Powell at the Women’s Resource Centre 6492 1367 Wednesday to Friday 10am-4pm or at 14 Peden St Bega.

Funding was received from the Department of Transport, NSW Transport and Infrastructure.

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