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Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson, has today given a private members’ statement in the NSW Legislative Assembly to call for increased funding for domestic violence services in the Illawarra and for drastic changes to domestic violence legislation in NSW.

Ms Watson was impelled to make these calls following the recent murders of Hannah Clarke, and her three children, Aaliyah, Laianah, and Trey. Ms Clarke’s estranged husband and the father of their three children ambushed the family on their drive to school before setting them alight and killing them.

“Sadly, events like this one aren’t anomalies. Domestic violence is still a prevalent issue that has infected too many homes and touched too many families in Australia,” Ms Watson said.

“Every 8 and a half minutes the NSW Police are dealing with a domestic violence related incident. Police officers from the Lake Illawarra Local Area Command estimate they spend half of their time on domestic violence incidents every single day. And these are only the incidents that have been reported to the police. We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

Last year, Ms Watson successfully lobbied the NSW Minister for Health for an additional $35,000 to address critical staff shortages at the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre, a local organisation providing support services for women experiencing domestic violence.

“Unfortunately, and for very obvious reasons, this grant does not go far enough. Demand is drastically outstripping supply. Some of the waiting lists for services at the Centre are two to three months long.”

“Vulnerable women should not have to wait three months to receive the care and support they desperately need.”

In collaboration with the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre, Ms Watson is currently fighting to see a domestic violence trauma recovery centre established in the Illawarra.

In her speech, Ms Watson also made calls for new legislation to be introduced that would see “coercive control” criminalised, similar to the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act.

“The recent heart-breaking tragic event involving Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey must compel us all to act. We need real action on domestic violence. Words aren’t enough.”

Hannah Clarke Memorial Morning Tea at Illawarra Women's Health Centre

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