STRONGER TOGETHER: Domestic & Family Violence needs a whole of community approach

You are here: IFS
Last updated:
26/07/2021

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about the important role our community must play in ending domestic and family violence.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Supporting positive family dynamics and educating parents about healthy relationships are two of the most important services we offer at IMPACT.

Domestic and family violence (DFV) is still heavily prevalent within our Bundaberg region, and without a whole of community approach the reality is we simply won’t see the changes we so desperately need.

On Wednesday and Thursday next week, July 28 and 29, IMPACT will collaborate with Family Law Pathways Network, Uniting Community Care and The Family Relationship Centre to host the Working Together community conversation.

The aim of these two days is to hold a collaborative conversation and have as many people present to establish a practice commitment for working together to prevent domestic and family violence in Bundaberg.

The complexities involved in this space requires involvement on multiple levels.

People working with families and children, managers, board members, policy makers, community members, community leaders and people wanting to make a difference are encouraged to participate in the conversation.

Data that tracked Domestic Violence Order applications made to the Bundaberg Magistrates Court in 2019-20 showed an increase by over 27% from the previous year.

This increase was the highest in the state, followed by Rockhampton with 14.6% and Beenleigh with 14.4%.

Evidence also shows that violence creates ongoing cycles of intergenerational trauma leading to unstable mental health, neglected children, government dependence and learned poverty.

The only way I can think to describe this is unacceptable.

We need more action, more accountability, and more people willing to not only stand up and say no to domestic and family violence, but to act on it when it is seen or heard.

MATE Program
Angela Twyford from Family Law Pathways Network, Mel Clarke from IMPACT Community Services and Bec Spruce from Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre will host the Working Together workshop

There are multiple service providers in this space that are under significant pressure; the need far outweighs the supports available.

The only way to move forward is to come together and work at this issue across varied government agencies, community organisations and members of society.

Together, we can create new, innovative approaches to effectively respond to the escalating incidents of DFV, as many of our services are not equipped to accommodate for the constant change and additional layers of complexity involved.

Children are the silent sufferers in these situations, until they are not.

There are significant ongoing implications for children exposed to violent relationship dynamics ranging from learned violence in the family unit to links to crime and deviant behaviour.

The Working Together community conversation aims to strengthen our relationships and collaborative practice through networking, conversations and, as mentioned, the development of a collective commitment to working together for Bundaberg families.

It’s up to us as residents of the Bundaberg region to create a light at the end of the tunnel, and work towards it together through measurable actions and achievable outcomes.

We are always stronger when we work together; creating the change that is needed starts with us.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about recognising and preventing domestic violence.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Each May, Queensland marks Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month (DFVP Month) to raise community awareness of domestic and family violence.

The aim is to send a clear message that violence in families and homes is not and will not be tolerated.

This year IMPACT’s Intensive Family Support (IFS) team have shown their support for the Red Rose Foundation’s Red Bench Project.

The Red Rose Foundation is a national not for profit charity that works to end domestic violence throughout Queensland, and the red bench is a permanent reminder that domestic violence occurs within all communities, everywhere.

IMPACT is proud to be a supporter of this initiative and has recently installed a red bench in the 108 Bargara Road courtyard for people to see, use, and understand.

Handmade by the NDIS participants in Rob’s Shed, the red bench and accompanying plaque provide a visual reminder that violence not only happens everywhere, but that we as an organisation and a community are actively working to stop violence and conflict in Bundaberg.

In the State Government’s “Not Now, Not Ever” report it was recommended that individuals, community groups and the private sector work together to help prevent domestic and family violence and support those affected.

This means we need to actively implement a whole-of-community approach and be accountable for ourselves and our actions in the face of conflict and violence.

We need to question the behaviour, not ignore it.

IMPACT Community Services supports the Red Rose Foundation’s Red Bench Project
IMPACT Community Services supports the Red Rose Foundation’s Red Bench Project

Last week I wrote about the launch of the MATE Bystander Program at IMPACT, which is another way we are working to end domestic and family violence in our community.

As mentioned previously, the project recruits everyday locals and trains them to recognise conflict behaviour and use safe intervention methods to interrupt the cycle of violence.

This initiative has also been driven by our IFS team who are involved in conflict resolution on a daily basis.

The IFS team has been working with families in the Bundaberg region, who are experiencing multiple and/or complex needs who have children unborn to 18 years of age, for over three years.

The service delivers parenting support through tailored interventions to build the skills and capacity of parents and carers to safely nurture and protect their children, and refers to external supports in need.

IMPACT Community Services' Intensive Family Support team supports the Red Rose Foundation’s Red Bench Project
IMPACT Community Services' Intensive Family Support team at the Red Bench

It was our IFS support team that recognised rates of violence were increasing during COVID, and it’s the IFS team that continues to manage the repercussions of the local housing shortage in this space.

With this added pressure it’s more important than ever that we as a community educate ourselves on safe intervention methods, and become a voice for those that have been silenced.

We need to actively stand up and say no to violence.

It’s not welcome in our community, and it won’t be tolerated by our people.

To find out how you can “Be Someone Who Does Something”, phone IMPACT today on 4153 4233 and mention the MATE Bystander Program, or email your interest to mclarke@impact.org.au.

Help us on our journey to improve lives.

A Bundaberg mother and former victim of domestic violence is in support of a new program that aims to tackle DV from a community bystander approach.

Angela Twyford from Family Law Pathways Network, Mel Clarke from IMPACT Community Services and Bec Spruce from Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre
Angela Twyford from Family Law Pathways Network, Mel Clarke from IMPACT Community Services and Bec Spruce from Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre

Karen was raised in an environment of domestic violence as a child and found herself involved in a violent relationship later in life.

She has been out of that relationship for over five years now but remembers the horrific situation all too well.

“Most women don’t ask for help because they’re too traumatised and can’t make a clear decision,” Karen said.

“Asking for help is usually the last thing they do.

“Other people taking notice and making that step for them seems to be the only way out.”

Griffith University’s MATE Program, an acronym for Motivating Action Through Empowerment, seeks to educate everyday community members to become leaders in the prevention of violence and conflict.

Partnered with IMPACT Community Services, Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre and the Family Law Pathways Network, Griffith will host a “Train the Trainer” event where 30 Bundaberg locals will be taught how to educate others on this principle.

The project aims to teach bystanders how to safely step in and address problematic behaviour as it happens.

IMPACT is holding an information session on Tuesday 18 May from 10am to 12pm for people who are interested in getting involved.

“I’d like to see more people educated about domestic violence,” Karen said.

“It’s hard to get people to fathom that women can’t just leave.

“You’re in fear of your life, of your kids’ lives if you have children… you know they’re going to harass you and hunt you down and contact all your friends and family, if they haven’t already isolated their victim.

“I got beat up for 5 hours in a unit block and not one person called the police. He got away with everything and he almost killed me.

“I’m over people turning a blind eye to domestic violence… there needs to be community involvement on a broad scale.”

Karen has also watched her daughter struggle through a violent relationship, and she wants the cycle to stop.

“Domestic violence is a reality in Bundaberg, it’s not just a number on a piece of paper,” she said.

“There are a lot of broken families, broken kids and broken mums.

“There are a lot of vulnerable women out there and the kids that are involved in domestic violence, the impact on them is extreme trauma.”

Locals who become involved in the MATE training will enter a three-day course and learn about gender stereotypes and how they impact our community, the role of the bystander and what safe interjection looks like, and methods to prevent conflict and violence.

Karen said while the MATE bystander approach would be great in the first instance, more follow up needs to be established.

“More training, more accommodation, more emergency housing, and around the clock support is needed,” she said.

Karen suggested a form of childcare would benefit parents fleeing domestic violence.

“They don’t get a chance to feel normal, to look for a job, they need support all the way through.”

For more information phone IMPACT on 4153 4233 or email mclarke@impact.org.au. To learn more about the MATE Bystander Program go to https://matebystander.edu.au/.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about the new lifechanging MATE Bystander Program launching soon.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Last year Queensland Court figures showed the number of Domestic Violence Orders lodged in Bundaberg had increased by over 30% when compared to the previous year.

This increase, from 355 applications to 468, was the largest in the state.

May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month, and while violence can unfold behind closed doors, there is still a lot we can do as community bystanders.

We were aware of the rise in violence as anecdotal evidence filtered through to us following the onset of COVID, and is one of the reasons we have partnered with Griffith University to launch a new approach to tackling DV in Bundaberg.

The MATE program, an acronym for Motivating Action Through Empowerment, seeks to educate everyday community members to become leaders in the prevention of violence and conflict.

The education and intervention program seeks to “Train the Trainer” by teaching 30 locals about recognising violent behaviour, what to do about it, how to approach a situation safely, and how to pass that knowledge on to others.

This does not focus on the perpetrator or the victim.

The focus is what we can all do to prevent violence in our homes, workplaces, schools and communities.

I’m sure we can all remember a time when we have seen conflict unfolding but not known what to do about it.

Or perhaps there’s a time you heard yelling from across the street but didn’t want to get involved.

This training is for you.

This training is for those who are sick of seeing our beautiful region as a statistic for increased violence.

This training is for those who want to see a change, and are eager to be a part of the movement.

This training welcomes all community members from all walks of life, because domestic and family violence happens everywhere, in all pockets of our community.

The program slogan, Be Someone Who Does Something, sums up the message perfectly.

You can be someone that does something; we all can.

Let’s challenge the root attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that normalise violence against women, inequality, racism, discrimination and bullying.

Get involved, and come along to our information session on May 18 from 10am – 12pm at 108 Bargara Road, Bundaberg.

A small change can make a big difference.

Help us on our mission to improve lives. We are stronger together.

A new approach to tackle the Bundaberg region’s surging domestic violence rate is set to launch in Bundaberg.

Next Bystander information session 22nd June 2020

IMPACT Community Services, Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre and Family Law Pathways Network has announced their partnership with Griffith University Queensland to bring the MATE Bystander Program to the region.

MATE Bystander Program
Angela Twyford from Family Law Pathways Network, Mel Clarke from IMPACT Community Services and Bec Spruce from Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre

MATE, an acronym for Motivating Action Through Empowerment, is an education and intervention tool which aims to teach everyday community members to be leaders in the prevention of violence and conflict.

Queensland Court figures show the number of applications for domestic violence orders lodged in Bundaberg was up 31.8% (468 v 355) for the year to the end of March in comparison to the corresponding period in 2019-20; the largest increase anywhere in Queensland.

The MATE program teaches people to become proactive bystanders with the tools and understanding to step in and address problematic behaviour.

The bystander approach focuses not on the perpetrator or victim of violence, rather what we can all do to prevent violence in our homes, workplaces, schools and communities.

The program challenges the root attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that normalise violence against women, inequality, racism, discrimination and bullying within our society.

Previously the program has only been offered to organisations however Griffith University’s MATE team wants to pilot whether this service can be expanded by training community members to deliver it in a local context and, if successful, on a wider scale.

IMPACT’s Intensive Family Support Manager Melissa Clarke said the program offered an opportunity for the community to respond to violence as a whole.

“This is about looking at the issue not only from a domestic violence lens but also as violence in general,” Ms Clarke said.

“This program aims to make a stand and encourage people to consider the right thing to do.

“It’s around being aware of what violence actually is and if you do see some form of violence, knowing what some strategies are to respond in a safe manner so that bystanders can walk away knowing they did the right thing.”

Griffith University will deliver a three-day MATE training course to 30 participants in August.

In preparation for this, IMPACT will host an information session on May 18 from 10am to midday for those who are interested in participating in the training.

The program slogan of “be someone that does something” urges all community members to get involved.

Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre’s Bec Spruce said everyone was encouraged to attend.

“Anybody can be a bystander, we’re talking to you,” she said.

“This initiative is a whole of community approach that welcomes people from all backgrounds.

“Even if people may not be eligible for a place in the training, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice – we are here to listen too.”

For more information or to register phone IMPACT on 4153 4233 or sign up below.

To learn more about the MATE Program go to https://matebystander.edu.au/about/.

What MATE is all about

Every single one of us plays a role in violence prevention—whether it’s something we’re exposed to directly or not. We want you to have the ability to recognise when a problematic situation is taking place and feel empowered to effectively interrupt the behaviour, providing it is safe for you to do so.

It is our aim to raise awareness around the ways in which abusive behaviour is embedded in our culture as well as the subtler issues that support a potentially harmful environment. Our programs challenge the root attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that normalise violence against women, inequality, racism, discrimination and bullying within our society. We recognise that in order to facilitate change, we need to open a dialogue about the dynamics and context of all forms of violence.

You may recognise that violence and discrimination don’t align with your values, but how often do you take a deep dive on the topic in an interactive environment? In our violence prevention programs, we create a safe space for people to share their opinions as well as any experiences they may have had with problematic behaviour to bring light to issues that are often left undiscussed.

Sign up now

Jannene Thorn knows a thing or two about lending a helping hand to those in need of support.

Jannene is IMPACT Community Services' Manager of Mental Health Services and has worked at IMPACT for 10 years across at least four different programs.

Jannene loves the work she does and the reputation IMPACT has in the community.

“I work here because the mission, vision and values align with mine,” Jannene said. 

“And I work here because I enjoy empowering vulnerable people so that they become independent and no longer need support.”

Meet Jannene Thorn, IMPACT's Mental Health champion
Meet Jannene Thorn, IMPACT's Mental Health champion

Jannene said that IMPACT was great because of its diversity, scope and wrap-around services.

“Someone will come as a jobseeker and wind up in parental support, or one of our other programs which is right next door,” she said.

“People are being referred across programs all the time – it's a one-stop shop here.”

Mental Health programs at IMPACT Community Services

Lived experience with disability served well

Jannene was a chef before entering the community services field, but after 19 years she felt “burned out” and needed a change of career.

She has a brother with disability so had plenty of experience in caring; it seemed natural to work in that sector. Jannene started working eight hours a week at IMPACT as a casual disability support worker, but soon became full time.

“My lived experience with my brother made me stronger as a support worker,” she said.

“You already know what standards of care are needed to look after someone properly.”

IMPACT's Community Hub: A one-stop-shop of service providers

Jannene spent three years as disability support worker before moving to early intervention in parenting as a Team Leader.

She then worked in supported employment at our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), looking after our workers with a disability.

“I really loved it and almost didn't want to leave,” she said.

But then Jannene found her calling as Manager of Mental Health Services, looking after a vast area of the Wide Bay. She now manages nine programs and organises the collaboration with other various support services.

IMPACT collaborates with other support services

“We collaborate well with the community,” Jannene said.

“We partner with other services, all with the end view of a better outcome for the client.”

Jannene manages a staff of 10, all mental health experts with vast experience.

“We use a strengths-based recovery approach,” she said.

“It’s whatever works well with the client.”

Jannene's plans for the future involve co-designing mental health programs and trying to establish a wider footprint across Queensland.

And of course, helping more people to improve their lives.

Welcome to Queensland Women’s Week at IMPACT! 

To celebrate the event, which runs over 11 days from March 3 to 14, we will be sharing a series of Q&A stories with some of our exceptional female staff from across the organisation.

Today you get to meet Maxine, one of our Intensive Family Support workers.

Celebrating Queensland Women's Week: Meet IFS's MaxineWhat is your role at IMPACT, why do you enjoy the work you do, and what drives you to be the best you can at your role?

My role at IMPACT Community Services is an Intensive Family Support (IFS) Case Manager within a Domestic and Family Violence Framework of Best Practice - DFV Specialist.  I enjoy the work that I do because a personal goal of mine is to “create a better world”; conscientisation is key.  In this role I am able to, hopefully, positively influence those I work with to achieve respectful, thriving and healthy relationships.

I am driven by all the people I meet and also by the children I come into contact with who might need their mother and father to respectfully co-exist with one another while putting in 100% effort to creating an uplifting, empowering and healthy home-front for them to springboard from.

Interesting but off-topic: In the DFV world and where 85%+ of violence and abuse comes from men towards their women and most often in front of their children, many questions arise. Like, can someone stop their oppression of someone (physically, psychologically, sexually, socially, financially)? And if so, how long will that take? What will happen if/when she decides she cannot ever trust him again and wants to leave? How are the children impacted by the shouting, screaming or the toxicity in their home grounds?

Who is the woman who has inspired you most in your life?

There are many women who have inspired my understandings and how I have worked over the years.  As a 9-year-old my learning about Joan of Arc really influenced me because I continue to be inspired by strong ‘warrior women’.  Currently I am following Vandana Shiva who began her works by installing a Seed Bank in response to the privatisation/patenting of natural resources; and I am following Indra Nooyi who has been voted the most influential women on Earth.

What are their exceptional qualities?

I think those women inspire me because of  their exceptional quality of Being – facta non verba – they walk their talk. The women who have been my role models are those who know the struggles of calling out oppression fearlessly (and relevantly) and most concisely.  You must be able to name the problem in order to resolve the problem to action for change.

What is your message to young women today who are trying to make their mark?

Do not be afraid to make mistakes, do not be freaked out by feeling uncomfortable in challenging situations – make your truths transparent. If you are wrong, it's okay. Learn by it, learn from it. Laugh a lot, and sing loudly. Read, Susan Jeffers' book, “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” or listen to the audio book. Mind the thoughts you keep, strive for respectful, interdependent healthy relationships, know what you stand for and what you won’t stand for. And just as importantly, learn how to defend/resource yourself in times of trouble.

Visit the Queensland Women's Week website

Welcome to Queensland Women’s Week at IMPACT! 

To celebrate the event, which runs over 11 days from today, March 3 to 14, we will be sharing a series of Q&A stories with some of our exceptional female staff from across the organisation. 

And what better way to begin the week than with a woman who needs no introduction; IMPACT's Managing Director Tanya O’Shea. 

Celebrating Queensland Women's Week: A Q&A series

What is your role at IMPACT, why do you enjoy the work you do, and what drives you to be the best you can at your role?

I am the Managing Director of IMPACT Community Services.  I am inspired by people. People who turn up each day leaving their own issues at the door to support others. People who choose to improve their life or the lives of their family. People who stop engaging in behaviours that are harmful to themselves or others. People who recognise that they need support to make a change. This job has been a gift, inspiring me to push boundaries, challenge myself and contribute – give back to something way bigger than me.

Who is the woman who has inspired you most in your life?

Professor Helen Huntly, OAM. Helen was my teacher in high school, my boss when I started working as a part-time aerobics instructor and is one of my current bosses (as a Director on the IMPACT Board). Her commitment to the education sector and dedication to community capacity-building is an inspiration.

What are their exceptional qualities?

It feels like Helen has been my informal mentor, cheering me on from the sidelines my entire working life! She never sweats the small stuff, is genuine, responsive and not afraid to tell me what I need to hear. Most important of all, she believes in me, reminding me that I have got everything that I need already within myself to do what needs to be done. She empowers in a way that leaves me feeling like 'I have got this.'

Do you have a personal anecdote about them?

Helen comes from a health and fitness background, having been a secondary school PE teacher and part-time aerobics instructor before commencing at CQUniversity over 20 years ago. Even though her job is incredibly demanding, she still runs 5km daily, nowadays referring to her exercise routine as more of slow shuffle than an energetic dash!

What is your message to young women today who are trying to make their mark?

In the words of Judy Garland, ‘Always aim to be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else’. Having role models and mentors is important, however to build trust and strong relationships, you need to be comfortable enough in yourself to be yourself. You cannot do that if you are always trying to be like someone else. Remember, you have got this.

Visit the Queensland Women's Week website

Leanne Baker is a name you might be familiar with – especially if you’re a busy mother or planning guru.

Leanne is a local business owner whose experience and products are widely sought after.

Her range of yearly planners and time management techniques are a hit within Bundaberg families, which makes her kind end-of-year gift all the more special.

Holiday spirit helping families in needIn November Leanne put a call out to her social media community to find a cause or charity to support.

“…a number of our community who are survivors of domestic violence shared about how the planners have helped them turn their world around,” Leanne said.

“Knowing this, we couldn’t help but reach out and donate these planners to (IMPACT) and aim to help as many people as possible – particularly because 2020 has been such a difficult year for so many.”

Learn more about IMPACT's IFS program

Leanne made the donation of 45 Leanne Baker Daily diaries, that retail at almost $56 each, as a reminder of the importance of weekly self-care.

“The budgeting pages in our LBD planners will be a positive and helpful aid in their lives,” she said.

“I believe that giving is one of the most rewarding actions in life, and in particular in business. Being in a position to be able to give back to others and also being able to see the difference it makes to someone adds meaning to what we do.

“It is important that (my sons) grow up with the understanding of the significance of giving to others, particularly if someone is less fortunate than us, as well as being actively involved in our local community.”

Staci Rae is a Case Manager with IMPACT’s Intensive Family Support (IFS) program and was the one to respond to Leanne’s social media query.

The IFS program assists families with multiple and complex needs, with 85% of their intake either experiencing, or having experienced, domestic violence.

“Leanne’s donation will help build or rebuild women’s lives and I know how thankful they will be for this gift,” Staci said.

Visit leannebaker.com to check out her range of products

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" IS A WEEKLY COLUMN WHERE TANYA EXPLORES KEY ISSUES. TODAY TANYA TALKS ABOUT PUTTING OUR OWN WELLBEING FIRST THESE HOLIDAYS.

The holiday period is typically a time of more.

More relaxing, more family time, more spending, more food, and more alcohol.

But for families who experience domestic and family violence, more is a frightening reality.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Put Your Wellbeing First these HolidaysWhile many of our community members experience more love and joy, others are preparing for a time of uncertainty.

Existing family tensions, fueled by substance abuse and prolonged exposure to stressful environments, create the busiest time of year for family support providers.

In an environment where referrals for Intensive Family Support are already overflowing, and Government Departments are struggling to manage the number of intakes, we are urging people to make a change these holidays.

A 2018 study on family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia found seasonal changes, such as Christmas and New Year, have been linked to increased rates of family violence.

It identified increased contact, financial stress, and consumption of alcohol as possible explanations for the rise in violence.

Support Programs at IMPACT Community Services

We want our Bundaberg community to enjoy this time of year without the worry of family aggression.

Other than the obvious step of consuming fewer harmful substances, reducing the amount of stress can also help.

Simple ways to reduce stress include acknowledging your feelings, reaching out to others, being realistic, learning to say no, continuing healthy habits, and taking “me” time.

Expectations around presents and how much money is spent can also be stress-inducing.

Overspending is often avoidable, so try to set an affordable budget and work to it; remember, children can only play with one toy at a time, and most adults already have everything they need.

This time of year is about giving thanks for the blessings in life, and maintaining or developing everyday good choices is important: eat healthy meals, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and exercise your body.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Human Rights - for all people always

Being able to identify triggers in others is also an important step to diffusing a situation before something more occurs.

The most common displays of this include hypersensitivity, verbal abuse, controlling behaviour, unrealistic expectations, isolation, blaming, threats, and the use of force.

2020 has already been an incredibly trying time for many and added stresses need to be left behind this holiday season.

Take each day as it comes and breathe through the difficulties.

The minor inconveniences will only affect us as much as we let them.

Have a wonderful end of year and we look forward to continuing this column in the New Year of 2021.

If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship you can phone DV Connect’s 24/7 women’s line on 1800 811 811 or their men’s line from 9am to midnight on 1800 600 636.

This week, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director Tanya O'Shea highlights the issues we see in the Family Support space in recognition of the International day of Non-Violence

Stronger Together - International Day of Non-ViolenceToday, October 2 is the International day of Non-Violence. Our region has historically experienced shockingly high statistics of domestic violence, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the number of violent acts being committed in homes in the Bundaberg region.

At IMPACT Community Services we have seen a spike in domestic violence cases following the outbreak of Coronavirus and the following restrictions and lockdown period. We are engaged with families involved with domestic violence every day. Our incredible Intensive Family Support (IFS) staff work tirelessly with families in violent circumstances, and help at-risk partners and children flee their homes when things become unbearable. Our IFS staff are on the frontlines and bear witness to the distressing situations many people are involved in.

Of course, it’s never okay to become violent to anyone or anything, but we understand there are several complex factors involved when this type of act is prevalent in families.

Need assistance in overcoming life's obstacles? Our Community Navigators are here to help.

When underlying issues involving financial burdens, drug use and alcohol abuse are present, the additional advice during COVID-19 to limit social outings and on-site work have compounded pre-existing pressures in homes that may have already been ill-equipped to manage stress adequately. Many workers lost their jobs or were given reduced hours when the pandemic hit, adding fuel to an already stoked fire.

The important message to get across here is that there are services available to people in these situations. Our IFS staff don’t judge families who need assistance. We approach any given situation with open minds and a willingness to help. Ultimately, our staff want to make a difference in people’s lives. We work to prevent Government departments becoming involved, to give people the opportunity to build strong and healthy futures for themselves. We work to broaden available support networks to help both the parent’s and children’s wellbeing.

Parenting is the world’s hardest job, and everyone is a on a learning journey – it’s okay to reach out for help. When families are ready for support, we let them lead the conversation in how we can best assist them to make beneficial changes within the family dynamic. We can also help with tenancy support, connecting people with specialist appointments, parenting tips, behavior management tools, household management and routine structure, safety planning, advocating for services such as mental health or for housing, and provide access to DV Connect.

Interested in volunteering? Contact our CVS program today.

Sometimes people don’t understand the severity of their situation until they speak with someone removed from the immediate family structure. There are varying forms of violence and abuse, be that physical, mental or emotional, and acknowledging someone’s trauma can help them understand the realities of their lived experiences. Having someone to talk to is the first step to recovery, and once the conversation has begun, IFS can then approach their needs in a holistic way, wrapping support around people and families as needed.

When applying for certain assistance, families can become overwhelmed with tight criteria and departmental jargon that can be difficult to decipher. Our staff help clients articulate exactly what they need so they can be aligned with the services they are entitled to.

It’s important to remember that domestic violence is never okay and there are services available to help. If you are experiencing violence in your home, you can phone 1800 737 732 (1800 RESPECT) or DV Connect on 1800 811 811.

If you’d like to make a referral for support, you can contact Family and Child Connect on 13 32 34.

If you’re in need of assistance but unsure about how to proceed, please feel free to phone our IFS team for advice on 4153 4233.

R U OK? Day and World Suicide Prevention Day provide opportunities for us to check on our friends, family and colleagues. Here at IMPACT Community Services we want to know, "are you okay?"

Today, R U OK? Day and World Suicide Prevention Day both fall within Child Protection Week.

Here at IMPACT Community Services we thought it fitting to speak with our Intensive Family Support unit to identify when someone might need assistance and how they can go about seeking that help.

Rose is a 31-year-old stay at home mother of three who relies heavily on Centrelink assistance to provide for her young family while breeding her purebred dogs for additional income. Her eldest child, 9, has violent behavioural management issues and, along with her 5-year-old, has not been formally diagnosed with a disability. Rose’s 3-month-old is at risk of suffering developmental delays due to the violent nature of the siblings.

She feels isolated, judged by others and is afraid her current situation will never improve. Her biggest fears involve having Child Safety remove her children, the baby’s father taking full custody, and having her children develop criminal behaviour that requires legal intervention.

It isn't weak to speak: R U OK?

Rose suffers from her own childhood trauma which has led to her own children being subjected to unhealthy role models and violent tendencies. Without intervention, Rose’s children could spiral into a world of crime, violence, instability and contribute to further intergenerational trauma.

Does this situation sound familiar? Do you know someone in a similar situation who could use a hand up? With the support of IMPACT’s IFS program, Rose would gain a sense of feeling supported and connected in a trusting environment. She would also receive education on parenting to help her support her children and their needs appropriately without the fear of Child Services taking her kids.

Violence and trauma become triggers for larger events. Stop the cycle before it’s too late. R U OK? Start the conversation and be the support someone desperately needs. Ask, listen, encourage action and check in with your friend to follow up with their situation. For more information visit ruok.org.au.

If you are a struggling parent looking for support, phone Family and Child Connect on 13 32 64.

To raise awareness and show your support of suicide prevention, light a candle at a window at 8pm tonight. If you have been affected by suicide and would like someone to talk to, phone the 24-hour Lifeline support service on 13 11 14.

To enquire about support with IMPACT, phone 4153 4233 today.

Artwork: Goreng Goreng artist Rachael Sarra

envelopephonemap-marker icon-angle icon-bars icon-times linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram