29 Jun 2010

Women's refuges predict surge in demand

11:42 pm on 29 June 2010

Women's refuges expect demand for their services to soar as a result of a new Government initiative to protect the victims of crime.

Under the Victims of Crime Initiative, which comes into force on Thursday, police will be able to issue on-the-spot orders removing potentially violent people from their homes for five days, even if there are no apparent grounds for arrest.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad says it is a big step that will allow officers to act immediately to protect a victim in circumstances where police were previously powerless.

The move is expected to generate an increase in referrals to refuges.

The National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges predicts there could be up to 20,000 more referrals in the next year. The collective says it hasn't been promised additional funds to cope with such an influx.

Justice Minister Simon Power says community groups are unlikely to experience an immediate increase in demand, but his ministry will listen if that turns out to be the case.

"My primary concern here is making sure that victims get access to decent legal instruments to help protect them."

The national Network of Stopping Violence Services wants at least $4 million annually to fund field workers who can work directly with families affected by violence.