New South Australian service rebuilds lives through specialist counselling for victims

CRUCIAL: New service 'rebuild - Counselling for Victims of Crime' run by Relationships Australia SA has supported more than 500 people since July 1 2020.
CRUCIAL: New service 'rebuild - Counselling for Victims of Crime' run by Relationships Australia SA has supported more than 500 people since July 1 2020.

The release of major state funds in mid 2020 to improve dedicated counselling services for victims of crime currently shows there is scope to potentially expand outreach services in regional SA.

The opportunity highlighted by the Attorney-General's office this week comes after dedicated Victims of Crime offices in Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla closed.

Direct questions put to the SA department by Australian Community Media, owner of this publication, about the closures went unanswered.

Instead, a spokesperson for the department promoted Relationships Australia South Australia (RASA) new service 'rebuild - Counselling for Victims of Crime' was established on July 1 2020.

It responds to the 2019-20 state budget, where the government announced a major grant paid from the Victims of Crime Fund, to boost core counselling services.

"The Attorney-General's department undertook a competitive, independent tender process for the grant, awarding it to Relationships Australia South Australia (RASA)," the spokesperson said.

The move has since resulted in assisting more than 500 victims, while working in close partnership with the Commissioner for Victims' Rights, peer support and advocacy agencies and SA Police.

Currently, 11 dedicated new 'rebuild' sites operate in SA, three of which are located in country SA.

"[There are] outreach services provided to Gawler, Noarlunga, Clare, Loxton, Barmera, Murray Bridge, Mount Barker and Ceduna...there is scope to expand," the spokesperson said.

Furthermore, it was shared how the services under 'rebuild' provide face-to-face, online or online service delivery.

"In addition, the Commissioner for Victims' Rights Office has been provided with $252,786 to support victims through the court process and assist them in preparing victim impact statements," the spokesperson shared.

"The compensation payments to victims are increasing year on year, with almost $20 million paid to victims in 2019-20, compared to just over $10 million in 2015-16."

Meanwhile, RASA was first established in 1948 to assist returned service men and women experiencing, what is now known as PTSD, to re-engage with their families.

It has continued delivering trauma support through multiple programs for nearly 70 years.

RASA chief executive Claire Ralfs, in a statement released to media last year, said that over 60 per cent of services and programs involve a response to family and domestic violence, often including impacts of childhood sexual assault.

"We have consistent evidence that people who receive RASA's services report improvements to their mental wellbeing, feel safer and are better able to deal with life's challenges," Dr Ralfs said.

"We offer many specialist services that involve helping people with trauma related to gambling harm, child protection concerns, parenting stress, family mental health, post adoption, and growing up out of home care."

In addition, RASA is also able to offer specialist disability counselling, couple relationship counselling, family dispute resolution, child and parent education, and individual grief counselling, where necessary.