Related: Court worker speak out...click here
Related: A hotspot but no funds...click here
Related: Sydney organisation to help in our push for a shelter...click here
THE sound of a woman crying can be heard through the bedroom walls of the home next door. She can’t be seen but it is clear to her neighbours that she needs help.
“We could hear the sound of hitting and a woman crying.”Great Lakes Councillor Jim Morwitch
Not long after Great Lakes Councillor Jim Morwitch and his wife Irene moved into their Forster home in 2009, it became evident to them that a woman in a nearby home was being physically and emotionally abused by her male partner. The man could be heard arriving home drunk every Friday and Saturday night and he would turn violent towards her.
The same scenario continued for weeks and Mr Morwitch and his wife knew they had to act. Eventually, one simple phone call was all it took.
“We could hear the sound of hitting and a woman crying,” Mr Morwitch explained.
“I went to the police and I was advised that the man had been reported by other neighbours. The police then followed it through and went to the premises. A few weeks later we were told by another neighbour that the woman had left.
“I think a man always feels like he personally wants to intervene or at least stop it but it’s a well known fact that it’s best not to do that. A better form of action is to call the police so it was good to know that they followed it up and helped the woman leave.”
The situation may have occurred six years ago now but it is one that remains etched in Mr Morwitch’s mind.
“I felt that the issue was very real here and it prompted me to ask the question, what is it really like in Forster?”
After talking to representatives at the Forster Neighbourhood Centre, Mr Morwitch said it became obvious that the Great Lakes was in need of some kind of emergency accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence.
He has also learnt that Forster Tuncurry is the fourth worst area in terms of domestic violence incidents in NSW.
Late last year, Great Lakes Council lodged a submission to the state government which requested funding to provide emergency accommodation in either Forster or Tuncurry.
The submission, however, was rejected by the state government on the grounds that women and children in Forster would be adequately provided for at the Women’s Refuge in Taree.
Mr Morwitch, who is on the Housing 1st committee – set up in 2013 to addresses the escalating needs of women and children impacted by domestic violence - said making vulnerable women travel to receive help was not the answer.
He rejected a statement made by Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead who said there needed to be more evidence to show that there was a need for services in Forster.
“We have pointed out that its government research from police statistics that has identified Forster as a hotspot,” Mr Morwitch said.
“Police statistics have revealed that Forster/Tuncurry is the fourth worst area in terms of domestic violence incidents in NSW.
“One would think the government with its research capabilities is already well aware of this. What better stats could there be to prove this?”