After more than 21 years of service Katherine Women’s Information and Legal Service (KWILS) is fighting to keep its doors open.
Despite rising case loads and a constant stream of referrals from police and other service providers, KWILS - a free legal service for women in the region - is set to lose nearly 80 per cent of its total funding come July 1.
Speaking at the international women's day rally in Katherine on Saturday, Victoria Daly chief executive Jo Sangster said the move was outrageous.
The long-standing organisation is calling on the Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments to take a stand on violence against women by funding domestic violence (DV) legal services in the Katherine region, to assist vulnerable women.
“Domestic and family violence does not discriminate," KWILS principal legal officer, Matt Fawkner said.
"KWILS assists isolated women right across the region such as women on stations, Indigenous women, women living in Tindal and newly arrived migrants.
“Without having the right access to legal help, such as obtaining domestic violence orders, there are very serious flow on effects in other legal areas like child welfare, homelessness, employment, injuries and family law.”
More Reading: KWILS celebrates more than two decades of service
KWILS opened its doors on October 24, 1997 with one solicitor. And has since provided assistance to thousands of women from diverse backgrounds across all parts of the region.
The organisation has grown to six full time employees as demand for the specialist women’s legal service is higher than ever.
Over the 2018 calendar year, the demand for KWILS increased 173 per cent.
According to outgoing executive officer of KWILS, Jacqueline Rimington, specialist DV services are funded in Darwin and Alice Springs, but not the Katherine region.
"From July 2013 to July 2018 there have been 2275 reported DV assaults in Katherine. In July 2018, 72 per cent of reported assaults in Katherine were associated with domestic violence," she said.
“These high numbers are staggering particularly when you consider these are only the reported DV assaults and we know that domestic violence is an under-reported crime.
“Katherine women need access to a women’s domestic violence legal services. What needs to happen for domestic violence to be taken seriously in the Katherine region?”
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