This federal funding literally saves lives – until September

I FELL down the rabbit hole and ended up in tears.

Falling down the rabbit hole, for the uninitiated, is when you go online for a legitimate reason – ostensibly to work, pay bills or fulfil some otherwise productive task – but you stalk your ex on Facebook or read plot spoilers for Orange is the New Black for an hour instead.

This was me. Should have been working. Instead, an email from a friend who is currently fostering some small children in the US prompted me to research the fostering laws locally.


From there, I wound up reading endless heartbreaking tales of domestic violence in south-east Queensland.

By the time I got to Dionne Fehring’s story, I’m not going to lie – I was completely bawling.

Her ex-husband somehow got temporary custody of their two children, aged just 12 weeks and 16 months, after she left him. He was deranged with anger. And so, tragically, he took it out on her the best way he could; by murdering those precious children, then taking his own life.

Dionne is an absolute pillar of strength. After surviving horrific violence and grief, how she is able to put one foot in front of the other each morning is awe-inspiring.

My tears soon turned to anger of my own when I read further, however, and discovered that the Chisholm women’s refuge in Brisbane – which helps dozens of women like Dionne and their children to flee from violent homes every year – will soon have it’s funding cut by the Department of Housing and Public Works.

The centre was advised last year that federal funding “is due to expire on September 30, 2015, [and] will not be extended past that date.”

So to be clear: our federal budget has enough juice in it for Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson to spent $77k in one year on taxis, meals and business class flights.

And enough fat to pay Joe Hockey $270 a night to sleep in his own home whenever he travels to Canberra; it’s estimated that he’s claimed about twelve grand a year in travel allowance for the last 15 years, or $180,000 in total, to sleep in his own home.

But we don’t have enough in the coffers to keep an essential women’s refuge open – a program that quite literally saves lives every year?

I can’t find an update on Chisholm’s future, so I’m not sure if the refuge is indeed closing in a matter of weeks. But even if funding is extended, there is sadly more demand for these types of services than supply could ever catch up with.

If you’re inspired to help the women and children in these situations who desperately need help, consider contacting Assist A Sista, a Gold Coast based charity that gathers donations to help these families get back on their feet.

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