Operation Courage lends helping hand

IN the last financial year 254 women have sought help to escape domestic violence through Operation Courage in Orange.

Despite last Sunday's White Ribbon Day, the national campaign to stop violence against women, numbers of people seeking help remains consistent.

Housing Plus run Operation Courage and their chief executive officer Karen Andrew said they operated three safe houses in Orange for victims of domestic violence.

“There has been a consistent demand for services,” she said.

In the 2009 calendar year 273 women stayed in an Orange safe house. In 2010 that number jumped to 323, while in 2011, 318 women used the facility.

Ms Andrew said it was too early to say how many women stayed in the houses during 2012 but expects it will be consistent.

“We don’t encourage women to leave but if they have decided to that’s when the support comes in,” Ms Andrew said.

It is often the police who get involved and refer women to the safe houses Ms Andrew said, with 150 of last year's referrals coming direct from police.

Families stay an average of four to 13 weeks while they find their feet after leaving a violent home situation.

Ms Andrew said some women also chose to stay in their own home with the help of a panic alarm.

“We can provide panic alarms which will give the women security,” she said.

“It goes through to police and security…it helps women to stay in the home.”

Housing Plus chief operation officer Vic Cox said the first step to escaping a violent domestic life can be the hardest.

"One of the biggest things is to make the leap to get away from a violent partner," he said.

"We give them the skills to get their lives back on track."

If would like information on Operation Courage call 6361 1056, head to www.housingplus.com.au or visit them at 113 Byng Street, next to the Orange Police Station.


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