CRISIS TALKS: Different groups in south-west Queensland have come together to argue a crisis shelter should be built in Roma.
CRISIS TALKS: Different groups in south-west Queensland have come together to argue a crisis shelter should be built in Roma. Contributed

Why Roma needs a crisis shelter to support south-west Queensland

SUPPORT services have urged the State Government to bring a domestic violence crisis shelter to Roma to help support victims across south-west Queensland.

Labor has allocated funding for a domestic violence shelter in rural Queensland, to complement their plan to build and run a $3.64m shelter in Charters Towers next year.

The Roma chapter of the Aboriginal Family Legal Service has been pushing for proper crisis housing for the last three years.

CEO Susan Hamilton said she was concerned the government’s approach has pitted areas against each other, ensuring somewhere will definitely be left out.

“You need to allocate more than two,” Ms Hamilton said.

“And you need to allocate them so you have sufficient for each area.”

She said the criteria being used was disadvantageous for the southern Queensland area compared to the Torres Strait and other locations.

Ms Hamilton said the area is defined in a very general way and includes Cherbourg, which already has a shelter. But it’s so far away from other parts of the 10-council region that it’s of little use.

She wants a string of shelters throughout the region and proper co-ordination between them, with established rules and procedures for referral.

“When our clients come from Charleville to here, we put them in the motel,” Ms Hamilton said.

“Otherwise they come and sit in our office and spend the day there and we take them home with us.

“And that’s not always safe (but) well what am I going to do – kick her out onto the street?”

Charleville currently has some general crisis housing, organised by the Neighbourhood Centre.

But co-ordinator Anne O’Brien said they’re open to any homeless person, whether they be bad tenants, or victims of domestic violence.

Donna Enders, a Community Worker, Far West Indigenous Family Violence Service said this usually meant sending people far away to places like Toowoomba, Ipswich or the Gold Coast, through a long process with DV Connect.

“When you ring DV Connect, it’s time consuming because they’ve got to speak with their supervisor,” she said.

Ms O’Brien said incidents often happened at night, and people sometimes miss the only bus out of town.

“Maybe if there was one closer it could be beneficial and suitable instead of having to send them away out of their communities,” she said.

But the issue of removing women from their communities is just one area to look at for Lifeline’s COO of Human Services for Darling Downs and SW Queensland, Maria O’Keefe.

“To remove women from their home and their support network is never the best idea,” she said.


THE chance to improve the support network of victims was something that should be embraced by the State Government, according to DFV Coordinator for the South-West Sergeant Annie Johnson.

Sgt Johnson, who liaises with both police, victims and perpetrators across south-west Queensland, said the State Government should consider funding the formation of a crisis shelter to help women in need.

“Rural and regional Queensland suffers from domestic violence like everywhere else, but with the distances involved people are cut off,” she said.

“To have a crisis centre in Roma would save them from having to go so far.

“The nearest one is Dalby, and Roma would be better as a more central location.

“At the moment, if they need to get out, they’re going at least as far as Dalby and possibly further, because the Dalby refuges are currently full.”

Roma-based South-West District Officer Superintendent Maurice Poiner said any initiative to improve a victim’s support network was positive.

“Crisis shelters are needed everywhere because DV crosses all boundaries,” he said.

“What we need is a network around the area so we can provide assistance.

“Anything that supports the network I would be supportive of, because there are people out there that need help.”

Maranoa Mayor Tyson Golder said the State Government should look at Roma as an option if they were serious about reducing the effects of domestic violence.

“Any infrastructure is welcome, because it’s very well to tell women to leave the situation, but if governments are serious about dealing with domestic violence they need to provide support,” he said.

“If it expands, they should expand to Charleville.

“If you can prove it’s working here, it’s much easier to go Roma-Charleville, so we’re better off to getting it in our community.”

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