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Domestic and Family Violence is in the Spotlight

by PeakCare Qld on 15th April 2015

Home -> Articles -> 2015 -> April -> Domestic and Family Violence is in the Spotlight

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This week we are focusing on the work of the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS) an activity of Micah Projects. They are a key group amongst many across Queensland who work tirelessly to end the “scourge of domestic violence” to quote the Honourable Quentin Bryce, Chair of Queensland’s latest taskforce on Domestic Violence who orchestrated the recent landmark report: Not Now, Not Ever.

The year is still so young – we’re only in April and so many women are dead. The latest count is 32. That’s 32 women killed, mostly by known assailants with the inclusion of occasional random murderers. All of these murders are abhorrent and unacceptable. Something needs to happen to change the status quo. Most in the know are all too aware that something needs to change rapidly. These figures equate to the reality that so far in 2015, 2 women a week are dying at the hands of men, most often partners or former partners and occasionally, unknown perpetrators.

The media is awash with stories of the violence and vitriol. Yet whilst service providers and advocates are trying to highlight the key issues, there remains an ‘underbelly’ that is ever present and ever trying to deter those intent on stopping the horror women and children face when impacted by domestic and family violence. That’s those who argue that there are women who provoke or deserve it, fail to adequately protect themselves or just don’t understand that men are equally abused and aggrieved. It’s time to stop that conversation. All facts point to way too many women and children dying. With statistics of death such as these together with those that a woman reports every 3 hours to emergency departments that’s way too many women and children being abused, tortured and murdered. Let the dissenting voices be as hollow as the reality of their statements. Of course we care about violence against men too. Our society and systems demonstrated that with the responses to the ‘coward’s punch’ outcry and responded with swift, appropriate and effective changes. Now the multiple national campaigns for the safety of women and children need traction. We can afford no longer to be apologetic about a focus on the deaths of women and children and the significant impact of such loss on children – especially given the current statistics! Our complete attention is required to remedy the horror of these statistics.

The Brisbane Domestic Violence Service is a key service working tirelessly to end the scourge of domestic and family violence. It is a free and confidential service for people in the Brisbane metropolitan area who are affected by domestic and family violence. This service supports adults, children, family members, members of the LGBTIQ community and others impacted by domestic and family violence.

BDVS’ goal is to support women and children to reach a stage where they are safe and free from fear of domestic and family violence. They provide a range of services including information and referral, crisis support, practical assistance, advocacy, counselling and emotional support.

Belinda Cox, Senior Practitioner of BDVS outlines the integral work of the service:

“At BDVS we deliver a suite of services that is provided in interlinking tiers of support. These vary depending on the needs of the person who has had contact with our service. It is important to the people who access our service that the support we provide is flexible and adaptable to their changing needs. Because when it comes to domestic violence, circumstances, safety levels and risk levels can change quite quickly.”

They work to provide a safe environment in which clients can access services and support that best meets their needs. This includes phone conversations and support, online support, a home visit or a meeting at a mutually agreed safe place in the community.

For men, women and young people who are seeking assistance to stop using violence in their intimate relationships and with families, BDVS can provide information, referral and intake into services appropriate to each of them dependent on their situation.

“Assisting individuals to make change in regard to their behaviours and patterns in their relationships is a vital component of prevention. Addressing the issue of domestic and family violence cannot happen without this important consideration” says Team Leader, Kylie Robertson.

Whilst still considering the recommendations of the Not Now, Not Ever Report, the Queensland government has released initial recommendations and funding to respond to the immediate needs of women and children escaping domestic and family violence. In a recent Media Release, Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Child Safety and Multicultural Affairs Shannon Fentiman has allocated significant extra dollars to this cause. The aim being to act whilst considering the holistic requirements; some details being too profound to linger over the details prior to required immediate action.

The Honourable Shannon Fentiman recently announced a $17 million dollar funding boost for domestic and family violence support. Families affected by domestic and family violence in eight locations across Queensland will soon have greater access to support with increased funding for new services. Nine organisations will share in an extra $17 million over the next three years under funding approved by the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and this package is round one of funding worth $49 million over five years.

Minister Fentiman said the funding would strengthen the capacity of the service system to respond to the needs of people affected by domestic and family violence and fill gaps where there are very few or no services. She said new domestic and family violence services would be established in the following locations:

• North Queensland
• Ipswich region
• Redlands
• Brisbane
• Sunshine Coast
• Redcliffe
• Pine Rivers
• Toowoomba

Brisbane Domestic Violence Service is a recipient of this funding. Together with the Safer Lives Strengthening Families Consortium they are looking forward to the roll out of expanded services in Brisbane. The Safer Lives Strengthening Families Consortium members are: Micah Projects, Jabiru, Kyabra, Queensland Probation and Parole, Queensland Police Service, Mt Gravatt Community Centre, Elorac place and Chisholm Inc. They are extremely pleased at the consortiums successful application for funding and for the opportunity to work closely in their collaborative processes and with the wider community to provide a range of services.

This extra funding will enable the establishment of three service locations in Brisbane: North Brisbane, South Brisbane and South-west Brisbane. The services provided will be pre-existing models of service encompassing information and referral, crisis support, counselling, planned support, and children’s programs. Further to these programs will be the additions of court support, perpetrator programs and a ‘co-responder’ program outreaching with police.

“The new services will give families affected by domestic violence better access to specialist counselling, court based services, information and support and intervention programs,” Minister Fentiman said. According to the Minister, the new domestic and family violence services would support the roll-out of the Family and Child Connect and Intensive Family Support services that are being delivered as part of the Carmody Report reforms to Queensland’s child protection system. “The government recognises a high proportion of families who have contact with the child protection system are also likely to experience, or be at risk of experiencing, domestic and family violence,” she said.

Service system integration, cross-agency coordination and addressing service delivery gaps are key recommendations of the ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ report that was handed down to the Premier on 28 February by Dame Quentin Bryce’s Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence. Minister Fentiman said that the Government was examining the taskforce recommendations to determine how improved support can be provided to families and individuals experiencing violence.

The Brisbane Domestic Violence Service will be following suit. Together with the Safer Lives Strengthening Families Consortium they will be using the taskforce recommendations as a reference tool to inform the continuation of the work already undertaken as well as the expansion of services that will be provided across Brisbane. Consultation and collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure that the task force recommendations to which the human services sector contributed at length are frequently revisited by this group and will continue to be.

PeakCare has long demonstrated its interest in being responsive to the nexus between domestic and family violence and child abuse. Our first major indicator of this was our Child Protection and Domestic Violence Conference Challenging Silence in 2010. Not much has changed since then and many would argue that domestic and family violence issues have in fact become more dire. We all collectively have much work to do in this arena. The climate is changing and significant campaigns and task forces such Queensland’s have promoted sector wide interest and the concern of many societally, governmentally and across communities. Many are calling for action to change the terrible status quo.

Thank you to BDVS for being one of the services across Queensland who contribute to the well-being of women and children when dealing with this mammoth issue. In the coming weeks and months we will be looking into this issue and other services with like intent to ensure that Dame Quentin Bryce’s concerns about ‘the scourge of domestic and family violence’ that are echoed through so many campaigns such as Our Watch and White Ribbon are addressed and the positive intents of such efforts are actualised.