LINKER is a domestic violence service in Central Western NSW that is changing the lives of women and children.
The rate of domestic violence in Far West and Orana is more than five* times higher than the overall rate for NSW. In regional, rural and remote communities, domestic and family violence is one of the leading causes for women and children becoming homeless and seeking emergency accommodation.
Barnardos recognise that there is a high need for support, yet unlike urban areas, only a small number of providers operate in often isolated locations and most services are only able to provide active support during business hours.
LINKER is a unique and innovative service which addresses the after-hours support gap in Western NSW. It proactively offers telephone and text message support to women who have accessed emergency short-term accommodation as the result of leaving domestic violence.
LINKER offers flexible out of hours phone contact (5pm-9am every day of the week) from a specialist domestic violence worker to clients referred by emergency accommodation providers. The LINKER worker proactively contacts the client by phone and offer personalised and consistent support as required during their time of crisis and transition through homelessness to post-crisis stability, at times of the day and week when there are few if any other forms of support available.
Clients and SHS providers particularly value the LINKER Service capacity for phone-based support from another town, allowing for a more anonymous relationship, thus respecting confidentiality concerns, which can be challenging in small communities.
On Monday 9th September the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health will release their findings on how LINKER supports victims, provides insight into the successes of LINKER and how we can improve this program to assist more women and children in crisis. A documentary has also been created by Barnardos featuring LINKER support workers and the remarkable women they have helped to rebuild their lives.
According to the study:
• 90% of clients strongly agreed that the LINKER Service reduced their anxiety and increased their feelings of support.
• 80% of clients felt less isolated
• 97% agreed that LINKER assisted with respect to immediate outcomes.
*According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, the rate of domestic violence incidents eliciting critical bodily harm, at a rate of 139.6 per 100,000, is highest in the Far West and Orana region of NSW. This is more than five times higher than the overall rate for NSW at 25.6 per 100,000 (Freeman, 2018).