Media have recently reported on a routine Queensland Industrial Relations Commission’s decision to allow Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) to continue to exclusively hire women.
The Service each year provides vital free legal and social work help to over 16,000 vulnerable women who have experienced sexual and domestic violence.
This decision, an extension of a years’ long existing condition is consistent with long standing conditions in many other organisations that help women who have experienced sexual and domestic violence across Australia.
The Service’s status as a women’s space is driven by client needs. WLSQ’s most recent client survey revealed that for 89 per cent of clients it was important that the Service remained a women’s only service.
WLSQ CEO, Angela Lynch knows that for victims of violence who make the brave step to reach out for help that it is vital they are made to feel safe.
“It’s not appropriate to argue with the wishes of victims of violence – domestic and sexual violence is already underreported. The women we see have experienced terrible sexual and domestic violence at the hands of mostly male perpetrators. They tell us they feel safer speaking with women when they have to relay accounts of this violence in the course of seeking legal help.”
“It’s just common sense. Just think about it in terms of going to the doctor, or recounting sexual assault to police. Many people when placing themselves in a vulnerable position prefer to speak with professionals of the same gender.”
Ms Lynch says WLSQ has been swamped by huge unmet demand for the Service over the last few years that continues to grow.
“We have so many women trying to get through to our Service. The demand for our help is huge and continues to rise. Already 40% of calls to our helpline cannot get through. This financial year we will receive more calls than at any time in our entire 34 year history.”