More vulnerable Aboriginal women and families will have access to the services of Djirra, after the organisation's long-awaited expansion to two new regional Victorian areas.
The community controlled organisation is a culturally-safe space primarily for women and their families to seek legal and cultural support help in situations of violence and sexual assault.
The first of the two new offices opened in Bendigo last week, with another set to open in the La Trobe Valley this week. The expansion brings their total of regional offices to seven, with the head office remaining in Melbourne.
Djirra CEO, Antoinette Braybrook, told NITV Radio that when Djirra first opened its doors in 2002, she never thought the services would expand to help as many women as they have.
"We have fought hard because violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is happening at an epidemic level," Ms Braybrook said.
"Aboriginal children are being removed as a result of that, so it is in part a celebration, but it's actually quite sad that we have to have more offices opening."
Access to the kind of services Djirra provides has been difficult for many regional Aboriginal Victorian women until now.
“Expanding our services to two new areas means we can support more Aboriginal women in more places across Victoria,” Ms Braybrook said.
“No Aboriginal women should be disadvantaged or denied access to specialist, holistic and culturally safe support just because of her where she lives.”
In Victoria, Aboriginal women are 45 times more likely to experience family violence than non-Aboriginal women and 25 times more likely to be killed or injured as a result of that violence, according to the organisation.
Aboriginal women are also the fastest growing prison population, with almost all those imprisoned being victims of domestic violence.
- For those in situations of domestic and family violence seeking legal or cultural support, Djirra's Latrobe Valley office may be found in Morewell at 246 Commercial Road and can be contacted by phone on 03 5100 1700.
Djirra's Bendigo office at 52 Queen Street, can be contacted on 03 4435 0500.
Further information regarding other services and office locations may be found on the Djirra website.