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Leslie* is a single 57-year-old Aboriginal woman who fled to the Orange area from a nearby regional centre following a violent attack by her adult son, who also threatened to burn down her rental property.

When she attended our service, Leslie was in financial distress and paying for her own motel accommodation in an outlying town. Leslie did not know whether our service would be able to assist her, but she had been encouraged by a friend to make inquiries anyway. Leslie explained that she had believed assistance was reserved for those experiencing intimate partner violence. Leslie also felt that she faced barriers in accessing many services, such as Centrelink, due to her lack of experience in navigating the internet. She had never even used email. With our encouragement, Leslie contacted Centrelink and is now receiving a regular income while she applies for jobs.

Leslie had the goal of securing a private rental in a safe area where her son would not think to look for her. Having left her employment when she fled to Orange, Leslie had no income with which to finance this goal.

Our service assisted Leslie to complete an online application for Housing Assistance with DCJ with the aim of having her assessed for the Start Safely rental subsidy and assisted with submitting the required evidence as well as advocating on her behalf. We also applied for an Immediate Needs Package for Leslie through Victims Services which saw her receive the maximum grant of $5000. This grant will assist Leslie with rent and with replacing the furniture and appliances she had been forced to leave behind. Leslie was then successfully approved for a private rental in a neighboring town.

I feel a lot more settled and am seriously thinking about my future and what I want to do.

Our service also assisted Leslie to keep up to date with the progress of the ADVO that the NSW Police put in place to protect her. The ADVO was initially not enforceable as the police were not able to locate the whereabouts of her son. We collaborated with Leslie to make a safety plan around possible future contact with her son and will collaborate with the WDVCAS where Court is scheduled to ensure that Leslie’s voice is heard when the matter is before the Court.

Leslie says she is feeling at home in her new property and is planning to have her grandchildren visit her when it is warmer. As a result of her experience with our service, Leslie has expressed a desire to be involved with the new women’s refuge as a volunteer.

*name changed to protect identity

The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS) provide women and their children with information, advocacy and safety planning where appropriate. We provide referrals to services including housing, counselling, legal, financial assistance or health services.