Gympie women's refuge the busiest it's ever been
GYMPIE women's refuge, Erin House, is overflowing with women and children escaping abusive relationships, but that won't stop the organisation helping every local woman and child in need.
Manager Bernadette (last name withheld) said the facility was the busiest it had been in the last six months and was now relying on other community organisations to help house abused women.
Erin House offers secure accommodation for women and their dependants who have experienced domestic and family violence.
The facility has three self-contained units and a four bedroom share unit, with a shared children's play area.
Bernadette said they pride themselves on helping every local woman who has been a victim of violence, but "tragically" things don't seem to be improving.
"When we see second and third generations (of families) coming back to the service clearly something is not working," Bernadette said.
"When children are raised in an abusive home where power and control is paramount, it continues in their own families.
"It's a blow out effect."
Bernadette said people can't keep blaming drugs or alcohol.
"It's the way people treat each other."
She is now calling for more serious ramifications for perpetrators of physical violence.
"If I was down the street and a stranger attacked me, pulling out my hair and bruising me all over he would be jailed.
"In the home they get away with it; its intimate partner abuse."
Badly injured women are no stranger to Erin House and it's why the facility has so much security.
Barred doors, security screens and cameras protect the premises but for some women it's still not enough.
"Some women we have to move out of the area because of the risk," Bernadette said.
"The partners are that violent."
A risk assessment is done by police and, if needed, women are moved for safety.
Erin House has staff members available Monday-Friday (9am-4pm) with an on-call worker available for emergencies after hours.
There is also a worker rostered on for Saturday and Sunday mornings.
All staff are trained in the area of domestic violence and are able to provide a range of practical assistance, information and advocacy to address emotional, physical, medical, legal and financial needs. Erin House respects individuality, beliefs, values, religion and lifestyle.
If you need help call the Women's Information Service on 5482 7973, Women's Health on 5483 6588 or Lifeline on 131144.
If it's an emergency call 000.