HAILED as a game changer in the domestic violence and sexual assault sector, the new $10 million Multidisciplinary Centre (MDC) is being built on the site of the old Mildura Post Office and former O’Malley’s tavern, located on the corner of Deakin Avenue and Eighth Street, adjacent to Mildura Law Courts and Mildura Police Station.

Local architects GSD have completed the design plans, which have now been approved by Mildura Rural City Council and a building permit granted.

It’s hoped that construction of the four level complex will get underway in mid-2022, with a completion date in December, 2023 being aimed for to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the Post Office.

The front of the building will retain the Heritage listed Post Office facade.

There is much anticipated excitement around what the new facility will bring to the sector which deals with almost 5000 cases of family violence and sexual assault in our region each year.

The MDC will be unique, in that it will see a number of connected agencies housed under the same roof, including all of the existing sexual assault and domestic violence services and the additional dedicated specialist family violence response services of Victoria Police.

Mallee Sexual Assault Unit – Domestic Violence Services, CEO, Joanne Sheehan- Paterson, whose vision it was to create an all-in-one facility, said it was going to be a much safer environment and offer all of the key services under the one roof.

“Victims of sexual assault and family violence will be able to come to one facility and be able to access a whole suite of services, just as they can now,” she said.

“An important difference however, will be the additional presence of the VicPol Family Violence Investigation Unit.

“The proximity of this location to the courts and Mildura Police is ideal, and rear lane access gives added security and privacy – it is going to be a much safer environment.

“This centre will enable those who are, or who have experienced sexual assault, child abuse and or family violence, to have confidential access to the relevant crisis care and ongoing services, from the one location.

“Historically, one of the biggest barriers to reporting was that victims wouldn’t go and report the incident to police because they would have to go to the police station.

“This issue was the key motivation for establishing Mallee Sexual Assault Unit – Domestic Violence Services, Multidisciplinary Centre in 2007.

“When the service comes under the one roof, victims will be able to see an investigator immediately and that officer will remain attached to their case all that way through the legal process.”

Ms Sheehan- Paterson’s organisation will share the building with the other agencies who are involved in their client’s cases.

“We will have everything here, forensic medical examinations, an MDC health nurse, special family violence legal practitioners, financial counsellors, family violence police – sexual offences investigation unit, other counselling services and access to refuge and secure accommodation.”

Ms Sheehan-Paterson said that she was delighted that GSD Architects were the successful tender for the project.

“It was put out to tender but our philosophy was that if it was possible, we wanted to ‘go local’ and provide economic stimulus into the local community,” she said.

“A construction company is expected to be appointed in mid-2022.”