Northern Community Legal Centre, NCLC, has launched a new program for Mitchell Shire women, helping to address high rates of violence in the community.

The Victorian Law Foundation provided funding for the NCLC to run the Mitchell Shire Peer Education Program.

NCLC chief executive Jenni Smith said the program would support Mitchell Shire women to become community leaders and help prevent family violence.

“The most common legal problem our clients face is family violence – often compounded by issues of isolation and disadvantage,” she said.

Women taking part in the program will learn about the causes of family violence and how to respond to and support someone experiencing family violence, including knowing where they can go for help.

Mitchell Shire has some of the highest rates of family violence and child protection reports in Victoria, leading many families to experience isolation as infrastructure in the region struggles to keep pace with population growth.

Ms Smith said the project’s grassroots approach would help Mitchell Shire women to create a local support network.

“We have found peer education to be the best way to reach isolated women in the community, when educators engage with these women at the places they frequent and feel safest,” she said.

“For many women, having a trusted source of accurate information and support is the first step towards safety for themselves and their children.”

NCLC provides free legal services to women experiencing family violence. About 1000 women access the centre’s services each year.

People can find out more about the Mitchell Shire Peer Education Program by emailing Ms Smith at ismith@northerncic.org.au.

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