VICTORIA Police at the Ararat, Stawell and St Arnaud Police Stations, together with Centacare and the Department of Justice has launched the Victims' Assistance and Counselling Program across the region.
The Victims' Assistance and Counselling Program (VACP) is a network of agencies from around Victoria that provide services to victims of violent crime against the person.
Agency staff aim to assist victims to effectively manage and recover from the effects of crime and tailor services to provide information, practical assistance and referrals to other services.
Ararat Rural City Police Service Area Inspector Ian Lindsay said the program was about early intervention and not waiting until the client's court matter comes up.
"It is about supporting them from day dot," he said.
"From a policing perspective it is good to have an integrated and coordinated approach and a local support to the victims.
"Often we focus on the offenders and about the court and outcome, but the victim is where the crime starts.
"It is about strengthening their ability to speak out, it is also about being able to provide them with support to remove them from that vulnerability."
VACP staff will be co-located at the Ararat Police Station every Monday and every second Friday, Stawell Police Station every Tuesday and St Arnaud Police Station every second Thursday.
Hours of availability will be approximately 10.30am-3.30pm on these days.
Benita Marson from Centacare said by having the VACP offered locally it will help victims with security measures, counselling, liaising with police, support at court when required and other services.
"We have officers in Horsham and in Ballarat, so it is just being able to provide some local service because there has been a gap in service delivery in this region," she said.
"Rather than clients having to travel we are able to see them here.
"Research says by engaging clients early it assists in their recovery in the long term."
Police in the Northern Grampians and Ararat Shires will be providing clients with referrals to this program, while Insp Lindsay said it was also important that the community encourages the client to seek help and use the Victims' Assistance and Counselling Program.
Referrals to the VACP can be made by telephoning Centacare's Central Intake Line on 1300 033 818 or contact the Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817.