The Women’s Legal Service Tasmania Launceston branch was officially opened on Monday by Attorney-General Elise Archer.
The service has been operating out of the Cameron Street offices since March, and its presence in Launceston was recognised and celebrated at the event by politicians and the sector.
Ms Archer said she could remember when it was working out of a shared office in Hobart with under-the-pump part-time staff, in its beginning around 1996.
Now, it has three designated offices, in Hobart, Burnie, and Launceston.
Chief executive Susan Fahey said the growth of the organisation reflected a growth in community and government understanding of the need for funding family violence services.
“It’s being reported more and people are seeking assistance more, which is a really good thing,” she said.
“There’s enough services to meet the need now, but we always need more funding to bolster those services.”
The Women’s Legal Service Tasmania has always been a statewide service, but the government has now funded a bricks-and-mortar office for Launceston.
This makes it easier for staff to interact with women in need face-to-face.
The office is a dedicated service for women escaping family violence, providing advice around children, property and debt, and referring women to other appropriate services.
“It can be a really complex thing dissolving a relationship,” Ms Fahey said.
“This is something that we’ve wanted to do for a really long time and we’re really fortunate that the Hodgman government has actually funded this now.”
Ms Archer said that family violence had been considered a private matter for too long.
“The very serious problem of family violence is now front and centre,” she said.
The Women’s Legal Service Tasmania helps around 1000 women seeking help with abusive partners or ex-partners every year.
However, Ms Fahey did not share that fact at the opening.
“Lately I’ve resisted talking about statistics, because our clients are not statistics to us,” she said.
“They’re actually women and families who need assistance, and as much as everyone likes statistics I think in situations we need to recognise that these are people in terrible situations who need our assistance.”
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