What to do (and not do) if you suspect or witness Domestic Violence

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Last week, IMPACT Community Services’ Managing Director Tanya O’Shea spoke at the launch of Zonta’s 16 Day of Activism to end Gender Based Violence. During and after the event, there were many questions around what people should and should not do as bystanders to domestic violence, and how to approach someone if you are concerned they may be living in a domestic violence situation.

IMPACT Community Services supports domestic violence victims and families living with domestic and family violence through our Intensive Family Support program. This article will offer practical guidance on what we can do as bystanders, as well as what not to do if you witness or suspect domestic violence.

We have all been touched by family and domestic violence in some way. Some of us have experienced and survived it ourselves. Many of us have known someone who is in a domestic violence situation, and we’ve all seen the news reports calling for changes after the death of yet another person at the hands of their partner or spouse.

It’s a sensitive topic, and if you know or suspect that someone is experiencing domestic violence, it can be hard to know what to do, what to say and how to best support them.

Tanya reminds us that as bystanders we have a choice.

“The choice is not to judge, condemn or question. The choice is not to think that social issues such as domestic violence don’t affect me, choosing not to watch stories on the news or listen to the radio or on your social media feed,” she said.

“Turning your heads, reading your phone, remaining in the comfort of your home telling yourself you shouldn’t get involved when you hear the screams next door. Falsely telling yourself those things only happen to other people.”

It’s important to preface the rest of this article by stating that at all times you must keep your own personal safety at the forefront of your actions.

The truth is, there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to domestic violence, because every situation is different. Allowing yourself to be guided by the person who is surviving the abuse (if possible) will allow you – and them – to lower the level of risk.

Remember, domestic violence isn’t just physical abuse. It also includes emotional, financial, sexual, social, verbal, spiritual, elder and child abuse. For more information on the different types of abuse that fall into domestic and family violence, we suggest reading this article from Mission Australia, which offers definitions of each: https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/stories/safe-homes/types-of-domestic-violence-abuse

So what can we do?

IMPACT Community Services Bystander Program Coordinator Sasha Sloat said it’s vital to remember that your job is to empower and support. “It’s important not to take it personally if they are dismissive, rude or reject your offer to talk or help as they’re just trying to keep themselves safe,” she said. “Above all, offer to talk, but don’t judge – as soon as you judge them, whether it be for not leaving or something else, you are no longer a safe space.”

The Do’s:

The Don’ts:

Help available for domestic and family violence

Help is available if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence. It’s important to bear in mind that some services will require evidence in order to provide financial assistance. This could be a DVO or a support letter from a service such as IMPACT Community Services or Edon Place, or a letter from Children’s Services.

IMPACT Community Services supports victims and families living with domestic violence through their Intensive Family Support program. Ph 4153 4233

Edon Place provides specialist domestic and family violence support services in the Bundaberg and North Burnett regions, including counselling, perpetrator intervention, temporary crisis accommodation and a range of other support services. Ph 4153 6820

The Department of Housing can provide funding for those escaping domestic violence to start over with furniture and whitegoods or cover the cost of moving their items interstate.

Uniting Care offers Escaping Violence Payments of up to $5000 within 12 weeks of leaving a domestic violence situation. You will need to provide evidence to access this payment.

Energy providers are able to clear debt if you can provide evidence of domestic violence.

Bundaberg Police have a dedicated Vulnerable Persons Unit which supports families living with domestic violence where there has been continued Police intervention.

Keeping Women Safe in their Homes (KWSITH) helps women and their children who have experienced family and domestic violence to remain in their homes or a home of their choosing, when it is safe and appropriate to do so. Keeping Women Safe in their Homes | Department of Social Services, Australian Government (dss.gov.au)

Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot provides financial assistance to people on temporary visas who may be experiencing family and domestic violence and financial hardship. Family and domestic violence financial assistance | Australian Red Cross Emergency Relief to provide one-off assistance to individuals with no or low income or those experiencing other life-changing events. This can include food, transport, clothing, budgeting assistance and utility assistance. Emergency Relief | Department of Social Services, Australian Government (dss.gov.au)

National Debt Helpline provides over the phone Financial Counselling. The 1800 007 007 telephone service provides a single contact point for people to access financial counselling, either immediately on the phone, or via a referral to your closest Financial Counselling service. Welcome Page - National Debt Helpline (ndh.org.au)

Good Shepherd Australia and NZ provides loans up to $2000 for essential goods and services with no fees and no interest.

Victim Assist – provides financial assistance to victims of violence that happened in Queensland - 1300 546 587

NDIS – for people with a disability who are actively receiving support through NDIS, may be able to access a crisis payment, this should be discussed with the client’s support worker

Legal Aid Queensland - 1300 65 11 88

Women’s Legal Service – 1800 957 957, provides free legal and social work help with domestic violence, complex family law and sexual assault notes counselling privilege matters to women and people who live and identify as women in Queensland.

DVConnect Womensline – 24 Hour Domestic Violence Hotline – 1800 811 811

DVConnect Mensline – 9am until Midnight – 1800 600 636

Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800

Emergencies – Police/Ambulance/Fire – 000

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses gender based violence.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Imagine a world where women and children didn’t fear being hurt or killed in their own home.

There is no room in our society for gender-based violence, yet it can and does happen to people from all walks of life.

Tomorrow I will be speaking at the launch of Zonta Club’s 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Based Violence. This is timely given the announcement of the Australian Government’s National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022–2032. It’s fantastic that all levels of government are now working together and committed to driving real change. It’s much needed.

We all have a role to play in ending violence against women and children in our community.

As bystanders, we have a choice to not judge, condemn or question. We can choose not to think that social issues such as domestic violence “don’t affect me”, choosing not to watch stories on the news or listen to the radio or on your social media feed. Turning your heads, reading your phone, remaining in the comfort of your home telling yourself you shouldn’t get involved when you hear the screams next door. Falsely telling yourself those things only happen to other people.

With the housing crisis and rapidly rising cost of living, our community is facing unprecedented pressure. As the pressure has risen, we have seen a steady increase in domestic violence.  We know that extra pressures can cause people to act differently to how they normally would. Remember, you can’t control the behaviour of others, but you can control what you do next.

No one starts their life wanting to be excluded, or homeless, or unemployed or a victim of domestic violence. No one wants to live a life filled with fear. Sometimes, women don’t always feel like they have an alternative choice. They don’t feel comfortable speaking up, they don’t feel like anyone will believe them, they don’t feel like anything will change even when they do speak up.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, please reach out. We are here, we are listening, and we believe you. We have a team here to support you - you’re not alone.

At IMPACT Community Services we see firsthand the devastating effects of family and domestic violence. We support women and children who are living with domestic violence through our Family Support Program.

IMPACT Is part of a wonderful multi-agency team in Bundaberg that is building a tribe around the women, children and families who are coming into our care as a result of family violence. We walk beside them as they navigate a new beginning, and every day we see stories of hope, of change and brighter futures for women and their children.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, you can reach out for help to the following places:

IMPACT Community Services – 4153 4233
Edon Place - 4153 6820
DV Connect Womensline – 1800 811 811 (24 hours)
1800 RESPECT- 1800 737 732
National Domestic Violence Hotline- 1800 799 7233

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger always call Queensland Police on 000.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses inclusion at work, and how it is better for both wellbeing and business.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Most of us spend much of our daily life at work, so it’s not surprising that our job and the environment we work in has a strong influence on our overall health and wellbeing.

Whether we feel accepted, included, and safe can play a significant role in how we feel about where we work, and thereby how we feel about ourselves. Inclusivity is more important than ever, not just at work, but throughout our day-to-day lives. Being inclusive is about more than ticking the right boxes. Professionally, it means constantly working to foster a work environment where people feel respected, connected, that they can progress, and are contributing to the overall success of the company or organisation they work for.

I’m proud to share this week that Diversity Council Australia recognised IMPACT Community Services as one of 30 Inclusive Employers for 2022-23. As members of DCA we were assessed against several criteria and benchmarks, and learned areas where we excel in equality and diversity and areas where there is room to improve. We’re thrilled that in most areas, we are exceeding national benchmarks around employee satisfaction on inclusion and diversity.

As an organisation focused on improving lives, we are on a journey to greater understanding of what is means to be inclusive. Participating in the Diversity Council Australia’s Inclusive Employer Index allows us to identify areas where we can focus our energies.

 We know that there is still work to do. Everyone has a valuable contribution to make, and we will continue having conversations with our team around how we can improve as an organisation to continue to embrace diversity and be more inclusive.

Inclusion is so much more than just a buzz word or feel-good exercise – it’s good business and good for mental health and wellbeing. An inclusive culture fosters a happier work environment that fosters effectiveness, innovation, better customer service and higher employee satisfaction.

We are all responsible for being inclusive, so I encourage you to educate yourself about and be open to other people’s lived experiences. Consider the barriers you put in place between yourself and people you perceive to be different than you, then do the work required to challenge them and tear them down.

IMPACT Community Services has been recognised as an inclusive Employer by Diversity Council Australia (DCA).

We want IMPACT to be a place where every single employee feels safe, valued and included, and that means continually working on making our offices and sites an inclusive environment where everyone is accepted.

We invited our staff to take part in an Inclusion@Work survey, provided by DCA as part of their assessment process, to evaluate their views of equality and diversity at IMPACT. Through the assessment process, we scored higher than the average Australian workforce score almost across the board in a range of categories where gaps in equality and diversity are known to exist.

As an organisation, equality and diversity is a priority for us. Inclusivity is much more than just a buzz word or a feel-good exercise; it’s something real and tangible that we’ll continue striving towards. We know that now isn’t the time for complacency, but to keep moving forward.

An inclusive environment happens when everyone in the workplace is respected, connected, progressing and contributing to organisational success. We’d like to thank each and every member of our team, because it’s through their actions and behaviours that staff feel respected, connected and believe that they have the opportunity to progress and contribute.

This is exactly what we will continue to foster at IMPACT so all staff can feel happy, safe and included while at work.

Lisa Annese, CEO of Diversity Council Australia, says: “Our Inclusive Employer Index is rigorous, it is not an award, it is a way to measure the work of inclusion in employers in a robust way. Those who have been recognised today are doing the work of diversity and inclusion and making progress on greater inclusion.”

What we're doing well

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses making a difference in our community through social enterprise

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

How many businesses do you know that operate with the aim of supporting the community?

 Many have heard of the toilet paper company Who Gives A Crap. Last week I was lucky enough to hear their CEO and co-founder, Simon Griffiths, speak at an event where he spoke candidly about how he launched the company by live streaming from a toilet for 50 hours to pre-sell the first $50k of toilet rolls.

Simon and his co-founders, Jehan and Danny, started Who Gives a Crap in 2012 after learning that 2.4 billion people worldwide don’t have access to a toilet. They wanted to make a difference, so they committed to donating 50% of their profits to build toilets and have now donated almost $11 million!

We must ask ourselves how we can apply this to our own community. Every time we turn on the news, we’re bombarded with stories about homelessness, the rising cost of living and the impact on mental health. The opportunity for social enterprises to make real and tangible differences within our community has never been greater.

IMPACT ventured into social enterprise in 2001, partnering with Bundaberg Regional Council to provide jobs for 24 people with a disability, in addition to creating an environmental impact by reducing waste going to landfill. In 2014, we purchased a small 1.5 tonne a month laundry with a vision of providing jobs for people with disability or mental illness. In 2016, IMPACT accelerated the business building its own commercial laundry, New Image Laundry, which now has the capacity to process up to 80 tonne per month. It now employs over 25 people and has major contracts with The Friendlies Hospital and Blue Care.

Our vision of ‘Improving Lives’ is embedded into the DNA of our business and is directly focused on creating social, cultural and environmental impact. We see the change that can be created when people, particularly those who traditionally struggle to enter the workforce, are provided with an opportunity. Pathways to employment are created, workforce participation rates increase, and people become economically independent. Intergenerational welfare dependence patterns are disrupted.

Social enterprise equals good business.

Have an idea for a social enterprise? Currently, IMPACT Community Services is working with StartSomeGood to host Emerge, a program that will teach you how to transform your ideas into a ready to launch social enterprise.

Reach out if you would like to find out more.

Yvonne Spokes knows what it’s like to be lonely. That’s why two years ago she joined the Community Visitors Scheme run by IMPACT Community Services. Yvonne, who is also a member of a walking group, was looking for something more in her life when she first heard about the scheme, which connects volunteer visitors with elderly people in the community. Excited to ease the loneliness in someone else’s life, she immediately signed up and was paired with Barbara Wheeler, now aged 96.

The two hit it off immediately and have formed a very special bond. Through their weekly visits they have introduced their families to each other and support one another through the highs and lows of life.

Yvonne (right) has been visiting Barbara for 2 years through IMPACT's Community Visitors Scheme. The pair have formed a close friendship.

Barbara said she was surprised when asked if she’d like a visitor, but Yvonne’s visits have been life-changing.

“[I was] asked one day if I’d like a visitor, and I said yes please so Yvonne started to visit and we’ve become very close friends,” she said.

“She has made so much of a difference to my life. I used to talk about the things I didn’t like in my life, but Yvonne has taught me to stop doing that and to live in the moment. Now I live for each day. She’s like a light when she comes into the room, and I always get a hug!”

Interviewing the pair together, the special bond they have developed since joining the Community Visitor Scheme is clear. They both smiled as they reflected on their shyness the day they met, however they soon overcame this and formed a friendship like no other.

“After Yvonne came and we started to talk, it made me feel like I still have a place in the world,” Barbara said.

Yvonne says she looks forward to their weekly visits as much as Barbara does, and has found comfort in the strong connection the two have formed.

“For me, it’s like having my mother back again,” she said.

“We can say anything to each other… we’ve found that we’ve led very similar lives and we have a lot in common!”.

IMPACT's Genevieve, Sandy and Heather cutting the CVS
30 year celebration cake

This month, the Community Visitor Scheme is celebrating it’s 30 year anniversary. The program links visitors with older people who live at home and receive an aged care package or live in an aged care facility and aims to combat social isolation in the elderly. There are currently 125 volunteer visitors taking part in the program visiting people in Bundaberg, Childers, Gin Gin and North Burnett.

Program manager Heather Hinsbey said IMPACT welcomes volunteers aged 18 and over to join the program.

“If you have a little spare time, would like to make a new friend and change someone’s life for the better then we’d love to talk to you about joining our Community Volunteer Scheme,” Mrs Hinsbey said.

“We will partner you with an older person who is experiencing social isolation, so you can make regular visits either in their home or aged care facility. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference in someone else’s life, and both the visitors and older people can benefit from each other’s life experiences and wisdom,” she said.

The Community Visitors Scheme provides a regular familiar face for an aged person to interact with, whether that be with a cuppa and a chat, board game, or even walk.

The program ask that volunteers visit a minimum of once a fortnight and spend time doing something you both enjoy.

For more information on the scheme, call Heather on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233. You can read more about volunteering with the Community Visitors Scheme here.

Budding social entrepreneurs will have the chance to learn how to transform their ideas into a ready to launch social enterprise when IMPACT Community Services hosts the Emerge program this month.

IMPACT has partnered with StartSomeGood to Emerge. IMPACT will host the course in a face-to-face environment, allowing participants to benefit from learning alongside other likeminded people while building a local network and sense of community.

Program participants will learn how to take their idea for a social enterprise and develop a plan they can follow step by step to make their idea launch ready.

Social enterprises are organisations that apply commercial strategies to maximise improvements in financial, social and environmental well-being. IMPACT currently runs two social enterprises – New Image Laundry and our Material Recovery Facility.

IMPACT’s General Manager – Innovation, Nathan Spruce, said the program was a fantastic opportunity for budding socially conscious entrepreneurs to be part of a cohort of passionate founders who are on the same journey to design and launch a business that makes a difference within the community.

“IMPACT is excited to be partnering with Emerge to deliver this course, which will save participants time, money and frustration as they learn to organise their thoughts into a business model with thoughtful design for a product or service their customers will love, which generates profit and creates real change on the issues participants are seeking to impact,” Mr Spruce said.

He added: “The course is a fully subsidised program supported by the Social Enterprise Sector Development Grants, so there is no cost to those who take part.”

If you have any questions, please contact Nathan Spruce on 4153 4233.

Explore this opportunity via the StartSomeGood.com website: https://emerge.startsomegood.com/

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses boosting productivity with The Pomodoro Technique

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

How much more could you get done if you could give your full attention to what you were working on?

Distractions, social media, procrastination, excuses – all impediments that can quickly become problematic for the time poor. 

So how is it that some people have their ‘to do’ list firmly under control and remain calm in the face of a deadline while others consistently scramble to keep up?  

Research suggests that people who struggle with time management are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, sleep issues, stress, professional burnout and other mental health issues. In previous columns, I have also talked about how challenging multitasking is for our brains – we are much more productive when we focus energy and effort on just one thing. Finding techniques that support us to use our time more effectively is therefore as important for our health as it is for our productivity.

Cue ‘The Pomodoro Technique’ - the brainchild of businessman Francesco Cirillo. As a student, Cirillo found himself easily distracted so he set himself a challenge to increase the time he spent focused on study. Using a red kitchen timer in the shape of a pomodoro (tomato in English), Cirillo started at two minutes, incrementally increasing his focused time to one hour. After some trial and error, he found the sweet spot was 25 minutes followed by a 2-3 minute break.

The Pomodoro Technique is a useful way of reducing distractions and focusing on just one thing. Imagine deliberately pressing pause on social media, phone reminders, colleague interruptions and phone calls. I refer to this as ‘living the dream!’

The beauty of the technique is the only equipment needed is a timer and a way of keeping track of your ‘Pomodoro’s’ (or focused time)!

Interested in giving it a go?

Grab your timer and work through these six steps in order:

  1. Identify the task you would like to work on
  2. Predict how long the task will take to complete
  3. Set a timer for 25 minutes (think 1 Pomodoro)  
  4. Remove distractions eg turn off your phone, find a quiet space. Focus solely on the task for the duration of the Pomodoro (25 minutes)
  5. When the timer goes off, take a break for 2-3 minutes  
  6. For every 4 Pomodoro’s (think 4 times 25-minute blocks), allow a longer break (20-25 minutes) 

Play around with it. If 25 minutes is too much at first, start small and increase the time until you find your own sweet spot.   

In a world where there are more demands than ever on our time and attention, finding ways to do more in less time makes sense for our mental health and our overall wellbeing.

At just 24 years old, Ariah Goodluck is leading the way for young people to help combat social isolation and connect with society’s older generation.

The young electrician recently joined IMPACT Community Services’ Community Visitors Scheme, a friendship program that links volunteer visitors with people living in aged care facilities or who receive in-home care throughout the Bundaberg and Burnett regions.

Ariah’s enthusiasm is infectious, and several of her friends and family members are also planning to volunteer in the program, which aims to tackle social isolation in older people.

The television show Old People’s Home for Teenagers inspired Ariah to join the program, with the content hitting close to home as she regularly observes elderly family members losing friends and family and attending funerals.

While she hasn’t yet made her first visit, Ariah said she was looking forward to forging a new friendship and benefiting from the wisdom the older generation has to offer.

“I saw the difference [the friendships] made on the show and… it’d be nice to bring a bit of light to people,” she said.

Ariah is encouraging others to get involved in the Community Visitors Scheme, with friends, her mother and even her 93-year-old grandmother keen to join. Her grandmother, who is part of her inspiration for taking part in the scheme, is teaching her to play cards in preparation for her visits once she is matched with a participant.

Ariah said she feels it’s important to reduce loneliness in older people, and by taking part in the scheme she hopes to allow them to feel like they have family again.

“For the small amount of time you can give, you can make a big impact in someone’s life,” she said.

Scheme coordinator Heather Hinsbey said she would love to see more young people involved in the Community Visitors Scheme, as they have different skills and life experiences to bring to the table, including the ability to share knowledge of technology.

Heather said: “We ask that you visit a minimum of once a fortnight spending time doing something you both enjoy.”

“You might like to go for short walks outside, play card games, help to write letters or even just have a cuppa and a chat,” she said.

IMPACT’s Community Visitors Scheme celebrates 30 years this year and is a valuable community volunteering opportunity that has been improving the lives of our isolated older people. Volunteer opportunities are available in Bundaberg, Monto, Gayndah, Childers and Gin Gin.

Interested in volunteering? Call Heather on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses making a conscious effort to broaden your lens of society before judging others

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

A world of equality, where everybody has enough money and resources to feed themselves and their family, put a roof over their head and have money left over to cover clothes, education, and health expenses, is certainly a desired one; but far from reality.

In Australia 3.3 million people live below the poverty line – almost 14% of our population. While this isn’t an overnight fix, the judgement of people in certain situations can be.

Hearing stories from three incredibly resilient women recently, I noticed while their hardships and situations were different, they all mentioned feeling judged and isolated for deciding to work or not to work based on putting their family/children first.

These women didn’t ask for anyone’s help and they certainly didn’t need anyone’s judgement.

If you’ve read previous columns by me, you’ll remember the dot on the page exercise where you imagine a white page with a dot on it and reflect on what you see.

Did you focus solely on the dot? Did you consider the rest of the page and look at the big picture?

Some people make aspersions about others. They put people under the microscope like the dot; examining its colour, shape, size, position, wondering what’s wrong with it or what could change. We don’t always focus on the bigger picture – all the things going on in the white space. But it’s worth refocusing our view.

Personally, I applaud working mums, however juggling a career and children was easy for me. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by family I can lean for support if needed.

I’ve never been a single mum working four jobs to keep a roof over my children’s heads and food on the table; or stop working because my child required extra support; or eat toast for months to get the roof fixed. I do however know this happens all around us.

I also know that with less judgment and more compassion for the person we’ll stop fixating on the dot and find ways to better support these highly resilient and resourceful people. When we consider the space and people as whole individuals, whose stories have value, we start to connect with some of the real issues that people are experiencing in the world.   

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