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June 22, 2024 10:10 PM

Help Available for Victims of Crime

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Tanya Robinson and Sophie Wheeler from VOCAL, a support service for victims of crime.

By Jessica Rouse

Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

VOCAL, the Victims of Crime Assistance League, provides support for anyone who has experienced crime-related trauma including physical assault, domestic and family violence, they support family members of homicide victims, victims of sexual assault and those who experience psychological and physical injury caused by motor vehicle injury.

“We’re an extremely unique service which meets the specialised needs of clients from diverse backgrounds including men, women, children, non-binary, anyone that has experienced crime,” said CEO Sophie Wheeler.

“It was founded by a family who experienced homicide in 1989 and there was no trauma support or even an understanding of what trauma is. It’s quite different to other services because it is ALL people who experience ALL crime.”

VOCAL is now working on a program specifically targeting men after seeing an uptick in the number of males being referred to them.

“In 2021-22 we had a 32 per cent increase and in 2022-23 we had a 24 per cent increase,” said Sophie.

Sophie’s colleague Tanya Robinson, a Victim Support Specialist and Project Officer, said there are big gaps in the system that lead to complex barriers for men to seek help and assistance for their trauma.

“We want the program to empower men to lead other men on their healing journey. We want them to challenge gender stereotypes, normalise help-seeking and connect with other men.

“We want to bridge that gap and connect them with what they need.”

Sophie said the statistics are heartbreaking with four males under the age of 55 dying by suicide each day.

“I believe suicides are linked to situational factors like troubled relationships, work, legal matters, and the chronic use of alcohol and drugs.  

“I think it’s important to highlight that men often experience trauma differently than women due to societal expectations, traditional notions of masculinity that discourage emotional vulnerability. As a result, many men struggle in silence.”

VOCAL can be contacted directly by victims, but often clients are referred through many other pathways. Staff work out of Waratah, Belmont, and Maitland police stations once a week as well – but are completely client led going wherever needed.

To reach out: https://www.vocal.org.au/

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