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

Last updated:

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 IMPACT's holistic approach to training, employment and support.

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

Having a job provides more than just a paycheck.

While it’s always nice to earn money and enjoy the certain freedoms that can buy, studies have shown stable employment is also linked to our overall happiness and wellbeing.

Having a purpose is incredibly rewarding, and finding employment that you enjoy is important.

That’s why our jobactive and youth employment programs strive to find our job seekers work that aligns with their goals and values.

At IMPACT we aim to keep people motivated in their employment journey and work closely with our training organisation to help clients take the necessary steps towards their ideal jobs.

When looking for employment it’s important that job seekers have the ability to upskill into their desired field.

Assisting our clients to access further studies or gain relevant training is pivotal to their ongoing employment prospects.

Our wrap-around approach to training and employment offers holistic support to our clients in high-demand fields.

We offer Certificate III training in disability support, aged care, home and community care, and hospitality to ensure our clients are not only able to upskill into a rewarding field, but gain sustainable, ongoing employment.

Taking a new step can be daunting, however our training department offers an in-house upskilling option for people already engaged with IMPACT in other areas.

This provides our existing jobactive, Transition to Work or Skilling Queenslanders for Work program participants with a familiar environment while transition into new territory.

Many of our graduates are often able to secure work before finishing their certificates, and are blown away by the obstacles they have been able to overcome both personally and professionally throughout the duration of their course.

Along with training opportunities, we also encourage our clients to engage in other forms of work that can assist them in their employment goals.

Volunteering, gaining work experience and beginning internships are some of the ways we are able to help people make their first steps into employment or back into the workforce.

We pride ourselves on our approach to service delivery, and the employment and training departments replicate that.

Providing wrap-around support allows us to offer improved outcomes for our clients in all areas of employment, parenting and relationships, NDIS, health and mental wellbeing.

Helping people improve their lives is our philosophy and each of our departments strives to achieve this every day to best serve our Bundaberg community.

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

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the ways in which IMPACT encourages community and organisational collaboration.

A big part of being a community organisation is helping people improve their lives.

Part of our focus here at IMPACT involves how we can work with other businesses and like-minded organisations to provide a better service for our clients and participants so they achieve the outcomes they are after.

Operating across such a diverse suite of services, IMPACT has close-working relationships with plenty of the Bundaberg region’s really wonderful operators.

Here are some of the ways we work with others to deliver great results.

The Green Gang
The Green Gang

Bundaberg Regional Council

For the past six years, our Green Gang has been operating alongside the Bundaberg Regional Council as program trainees complete their Certificate I in Conservation and Land Management.

The Green Gang delivers Work Skills Traineeships through the Queensland Government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.

A traineeship runs for 22 weeks and each intake sees 10 new participants provided with an opportunity to develop the skills and work ethic needed to build a bright new future.

The trainees engage with council on various initiatives of benefit to the community, such as foreshore works, weeding, regeneration and revegetation projects, maintenance and repair tasks and completes upgrades to local spaces and facilities.

Stronger Together: Recycling towards a future beyond the bin
Recycling towards a future beyond the bin


Bundaberg’s Material Recovery Facility is owned by Bundaberg Regional Council, but managed by IMPACT Community Services.

The facility processes all recycled items from the region’s yellow lid bins and provides employment for more than 20 people with a disability.

Our recycling activities also see us work closely with Container Exchange (COEX), which is the not-for-profit organisation created to establish and run the Containers for Change scheme in Queensland.

IMPACT operates its own Containers for Change refund point, where community members can actively gain a refund for recycling their eligible cans and containers for the greater good of our environment.

IMPACT's Community Hub
IMPACT's Community Hub

The Community Hub

IMPACT is proud to have introduced a Community Hub which provides a one-stop-shop for support services for locals.

A wide range of local services, including mental and sexual health, money management, legal advice, carer and child support and housing, gather once a month at IMPACT’s offices so people can come in and speak directly to the experts in a particular field.

Providing documentation or receiving advice from multiple service providers can be a time consuming and exhausting process; the Community Hub brings Bundaberg services together in one place to work collaboratively and aims to be a time saver for people, allowing the community to streamline service delivery.

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

MATE Bystander Program

IMPACT, in partnership with Bundaberg Family Relationship Centre, Uniting Care and the Family Law Pathways Network is working with Griffith University to deliver it’s MATE Bystander Program.

The program adopts an educative and intervention method that teaches how everyday people like you and me have a role to play in the prevention of violence and 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.

IMPACT will be hosting a “Train the Trainer” workshop next month with a view to continue this prevention method to broader pockets of the community, so watch this space!

Kyle completes the first six months of his apprenticeship at Ross Gray Holden, Bundaberg
Kyle completes the first six months of his apprenticeship at Ross Gray Holden, Bundaberg

Employment Services

The success of our job service programs has been built on the foundations of our long-lasting relationships with employers.

Each year we work with hundreds of businesses across the region to help connect them with people looking for work and the opportunity to improve their lives.

I am extremely proud of IMPACT as a collaborative, community-based organisation that works with others to help people in our community improve their lives. We are all Stronger Together.

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

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the importance of NAIDOC Week and celebrating Australia's First Nations peoples.

Each year NAIDOC Week provides a time for togetherness and celebration as well as a platform for conversation.

To show our respects, each year IMPACT hosts “Yarnin with the Elders” – an invited lunch for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, organised by the Bundaberg NAIDOC Committee.

Over the past five years the Elders Lunch has been growing and we look forward to continuing this demonstration of our appreciation for our local Elders, past, present and emerging, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

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

We assist people of all backgrounds at IMPACT and have indigenous clients, staff members, colleagues, and friends.

We aim to demonstrate our gratitude and appreciation for the lands on which the IMPACT sites are established, and acknowledge the cultures practiced on surrounding country.

This year the theme of NAIDOC Week is “Heal Country!” which calls for all Australians to continue the conversation around greater protections for the lands, waters, sacred sites, and cultural heritage.

To facilitate this conversation IMPACT has offered its commercial kitchen and hospitality staff to provide a culturally informed and appropriate lunch for attendees.

Former chef and café owner turned hospitality trainer and assessor Jasmyne Larter has taken particular interest in appropriate cultural foods and sought advice from a select group of Elders who explained the need to provide choice.

With this in mind Jasmyne has designed a menu tailored to local cultural culinary preferences.

The menu consists of fried mullet with vegetable mash and greens, Beef ragu on a bed of steamed rice, coconut chicken curry on a bed of rice and corned meat silverside with vegetable mash and greens.

The IMPACT IT department also lends a hand with all our events to ensure audio visuals and required technology operate as needed, and our Cooee group has created decorations to be displayed on the table settings.

Pandemic restrictions meant we weren’t able to host the Elders Lunch last year, but we hope the success of this year’s efforts will far outshine the setbacks of 2020.

While continued restrictions have removed the possibility of a buffet lunch, attendees and invited guests have had the opportunity to pre-order their meal of choice from the carefully curated menu.

Indigenous Elders do so much for their communities, and putting together a lunch where they can simply show up, gather together, and connect with family and friends is a simple way we can honour their contributions.

Get involved this NAIDOC Week and show your support for a better future for all Australians.

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

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks to the new NDIS programs being rolled out at IMPACT.

Connecting with others is one of the many ways people maintain a sense of belonging.

Sharing common interests or values usually forms the basis of most friendships, but some people find it harder to open up about their hobbies or passions to others.

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

IMPACT Community Services understands that starting conversations can be more difficult for some, particularly those who are comfortable in their own company or people who live with a disability such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

To help establish these foundations IMPACT has created two new programs that are tailored to certain hobbies to provide an environment where the common interest between participants has already been identified.

The new Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) support program is currently taking expressions of interest, with a very keen NDIS participant eager to begin their role as the IMPACT Dungeon Master.

D&D is a fantasy storytelling game where players can take on roles and complete mystical battles against creatures to get themselves out of trouble.

While there are many online gamer options available to D&D enthusiasts, playing the game in-person provides a unique experience and creates an opportunity for social interaction between players.

The second support program called Lights, Camera, Action will teach photo and videoing digital skills to participants to help them connect better with not only themselves but with others.

Expressing individual creativity and exploring different visual mediums can be a communicative experience for an artist who may struggle voicing their thoughts, emotions, or views verbally.

Photo and video creation can also allow for others to connect to the work and feel seen or understood as well.

The Lights, Camera, Action program encourages social media to be used as a positive tool to express oneself while teaching safe use of the online platform.

Another fantastic service we have recently implemented is our new Psychosocial Recovery Coaching program.

This program offers a collaborative and holistic approach to mental health to eligible participants by building respectful relationships and providing essential day-to-day assistance, coaching, support, and resilience building.

Managing our mental health and wellness is so important, and having the right people to talk to can make a huge difference in our overall wellbeing.

The program also offers support coordination which connects all eligible NDIS participants to the wide range of services available within the broader community.

Our support workers consult with clients according to their plan and goals and match their needs to provide comprehensive support both at IMPACT and through external organisations.

To learn more about out suite of NDIS services, visit us on Wednesday June 30 as a local radio station performs a live broadcast from the front of our building.

You will be able to view Cooee and Manga artworks on display, and our NDIS staff will be available to speak about our various programs.

The IMPACT Community Choir will also be on deck and welcomes everyone to view their weekly rehearsal from 10am – 11am.

It’s going to be a great morning celebrating our NDIS community – don’t miss it!

Check out our NDIS services here and download our weekly calendar.

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 importance of diversity and multiculturalism in light of Refugee Week.

Australia has a great history of multiculturalism and wouldn’t be the country it is today without the contributions of immigrants and refugees.

Diversity allows an opportunity for education, understanding and growth that should not only be welcomed but celebrated.

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

Refugee Week, June 20 – 26, is not only an opportunity to celebrate diversity and multiculturalism in our communities, but provides a platform for conversation about what still needs to be done in this space.

The aim of Refugee Week is to educate the Australian public about who refugees are and why they have come to Australia, and to help people understand the many challenges refugees face when moving to a new country.

We need to ensure our local communities provide a safe and welcoming environment for refugees, and that refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people are not met with misunderstanding – often communicated from a place of fear.

This year’s theme of Refugee Week is Unity – The way forward.

If the restrictions and separations created by the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that human connection and interaction is valued above all else.

The message this Refugee Week is to rebuild and thrive, together; unified.

At IMPACT Community Services, particularly within our Community Navigator program that assists people achieve greater independence and wellbeing, we are seeing an increase in the cultural diversity of people in need of our supports.

While IMPACT does not specialise in refugee services, we maintain a strong relationship with the Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre and refer people to their programs when suitable.

The Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre helps new or existing migrants who need assistance with settlement or general access to services, and offers a range of programs to encourage social interaction, connection, and friendship.

From English classes and residency applications to workshops, events and playgroups, the Neighbourhood Centre has the best interests of local migrants and refugees at heart.

They have also recently advertised three group activities specifically for multicultural engagement.

‘Culture Bites’ invites Bundaberg families to share a plate of their cultural food with others; ‘Dance N Chat’ is a new women’s support group based on learning different dance styles; and ‘Wade N Chat’ aims to incorporate a friendly and supportive catch up with gentle pool exercises for all abilities.

There are so many wonderful people and organisations within our community who share IMPACT’s values and beliefs; we are stronger together, and we can help others improve their lives.

Creating positive change begins with kindness, acceptance and the willingness to include others.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Celebrate diversity this Refugee Week

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 men's health and the pivotal role they play in our lives.

From family dynamics and support roles to contributing to diversity and inclusiveness in our community, men play a pivotal role in all aspects of life.

June 14 – 20 is Men’s Health Week, and at IMPACT we want to shine a light on the importance of men in our lives.

They are our husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, sons, grandfathers, and grandchildren.

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

They contribute to the way we are all raised, and the way we ultimately see the world as developing humans.

This is why it is so important to support our men and ensure they can be their best selves possible.

Men have historically been dealt the role of the provider, and as a result were often thrown into a cycle that didn’t take into account their mental health and wellness.

They were the bread winners; the protectors that presented a tough exterior and a strong backbone for the family unit.

They weren’t encouraged to talk about their feelings or emotions and learnt to bottle up any sentiment and disregard it as trivial.

So grew the stigma, shame and silence; a perceived weakness that men wouldn’t be “real men” if they opened up about their struggles. 

Thankfully times have changed, and we now know how damaging that behaviour truly can be.

National events such as Men’s Health Week provide an opportunity to raise these conversations and encourage and educate people about the work that is yet to be done.

It’s important that the men in our lives feel included and that their health and mental health is as important as everyone else’s.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and we all need to work together to make sure the stigma stops.

Speaking up is not a weakness.

We need to change societal views that it’s not only okay for men to speak up, but that it’s encouraged.

A fantastic resource is the Head to Health website that offers a host of tools that are easy, accessible, practical and educational.

There are also some great community groups available for men who might not feel comfortable talking to close friends or family but could open up to others facing their own troubles.

There are also services available that offer face-to-face, phone or online support.

By encouraging men to open up, we are also educating younger men and children that it’s good to talk through our feelings.

Men take their own lives at four times the rate of women, which is five men a day, on average. This is unacceptable.

The statistics for marginalised groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, refugees, men in prison or recently released, and men of lower socioeconomic status are even worse.

To be great supporters, men need to be greatly supported.

Let’s ensure our men, young and old, are given a voice, are heard, and are allowed the space to communicate their feelings openly and honestly without being told to “toughen up” or “stop crying”.

Expressing emotion is a normal behaviour for all people.

Together, we can create environments where men have the confidence to speak up and the tools to assess and assist their mental wellness.

For more information visit

It’s time to remove the stigma and support men to improve their lives.  

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 steps we can all take on the road to reconciliation.

More than a word, reconciliation takes action.

The theme of this year’s Reconciliation Week aims to encourage braver and more impactful action.

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

We all have a responsibility and a part to play on the road to reconciliation.

This is a journey for all Australians, where First Nations people and their voices, histories, cultures, and futures are valued and championed.

Australia has a dark history and working together to shine a light on not only equality but equity moving forward is imperative.

As a community organisation we assist all people from the Bundaberg region, and are passionate about creating an inclusive environment.

IMPACT has completed its first steps with Reconciliation Australia to advance reconciliation efforts from within.

To visually reflect our support, we display Australian Indigenous art throughout our buildings, which was kindly donated by a family member of one of our Aboriginal staff.

Next month we will host an Elders Lunch and involve our staff in the process to raise awareness of the contribution that Australian Indigenous culture has to bettering our society.

Providing an opportunity for our staff members to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is important to IMPACT, which is why all our new employees complete cultural awareness training upon commencement.

We have worked alongside many local indigenous organisations in our training and employment efforts and are honoured to have local leaders at our events to perform the Welcome to Country.

While we are proud of our organisation for the steps we have made, there is always more to be done.

To advance reconciliation efforts, we need to move from a safe approach to a brave one.

We need to have the conversations about inclusion, diversity, and opportunities for First Nations peoples and ask how we can be doing more.

Having the brave conversations or disrupting conversations that work against reconciliation are two easy ways we can support reconciliation.

Improving lives, all lives, starts and ends with us.

Let’s be the change we hope to see in the world.

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

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.

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

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director


Visiting numerous service providers and community groups to provide paperwork or documentation can be difficult, especially for families who may struggle with transport, child care options or long working hours. 

Being a community organisation, IMPACT hears the challenges of the Bundaberg people and does its best to assist those facing difficult circumstances. 

We have heard many people find it challenging to complete these simple yet time consuming tasks of visiting numerous service providers, which is why we’ve been working hard to find a solution. 

Community Hub to provide multiple services in one easy location

IMPACT’s Support Services team is constantly on the front foot trying to make life easier for our community members and have established a Community Hub for multiple organisations to meet in the one location. 

Held at IMPACT’s Bundaberg head office at 108 Bargara Rd, which conveniently has a bus stop just out front, community members will have the ability to speak with a number of community organisations, seek free financial and legal advice, get assistance in completing forms, gain access to print, scan or copy documents, and have them certified. 

The services in attendance will work collaboratively to make it as easy as possible for people to access services and gain the help and support that they need. 

People may also be introduced to valuable services they weren’t previously aware of, providing the wrap around support that IMPACT prides itself by.  

It’s innovative and forward thinking ideas like this that make IMPACT what it is; a leading service and support provider in the Bundaberg community that cares for the wellbeing of its people. 

Monthly Community Hub will assist the people of Bundaberg

The Community Hub will host its first meet on Thursday May 6, and continue on the first Thursday of each month following. 

So far in attendance will be Wellways, Wide Bay Sexual Health, B Transformed Health & Fitness, Central Queensland Indigenous Development, Step Up Step Down service, a free legal service, Meals on Wheels, Carers Gateway, the Department of Housing, a Justice of the Peace to witness documents, and two financial counsellors, one from Uniting Care and the other from the Salvation Army.  

We hope to expand the Community Hub to offer even more services into the future, so spread the word and get involved as we strive to improve lives in the Bundaberg region.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director


As human beings, we are inherently social creatures.  

We haven’t changed much from our ancestors, who hunted, travelled and thrived being part of a social group.  

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

If separated from their tribe though, it could result in catastrophic consequences.

Fortunately, while the threat of a sabre tooth tiger attack is no longer a concern for us today, the issues that can be experienced when disconnected from our social group are still very real.

How our biological instincts protect us in the modern day

Some can experience a reduced quality of life or a decline in mental health. 

Others may find it hard to become part of a social group, continually experiencing rejection.  

And then there are others, who may have developed high levels of rejection sensitivity, expecting to be rejected by others and therefore often behaving in ways that push other people away.  

This behaviour is often driven by fear and can create a painful cycle that can be challenging to break. 

No one enjoys being rejected by others.  

Yet, no one is exempt from rejection in their career or in their life.  

That undeniable crushing feeling when we don’t get what we hoped for.  

And often, these feelings start to develop in childhood.  

Missing out on being selected for the basketball team.  

Getting a C on a test when you were hoping for an A.  

Not being invited to the party that everyone else is going to.  

To an adult, these examples may sound trivial.  

However, these small events continue to stack throughout a lifetime and become the building blocks for the learned behaviour and beliefs that we build and depend on.  

STRONGER TOGETHER: Transition to Work helps youth into work

Fast forward to today; a friend read your text and didn’t reply.  

You then saw her at the shopping centre later that day and she walked straight passed you without saying hello.  

You may find yourself thinking, ‘Geez. Twice in one day she has ignored me. Why would she treat me like that? What have I done?  

This response is the automatic, learned response.  

It can be that little voice inside us that believe it or not, wants to keep us safe.  

Remember, our ancestors were caveman.  

They relied on the fight, flight and freeze response to keep them safe; we are no different.  

Understanding our fight, flight or freeze instincts

If we consider the example above, we might get angry (fight), we might decide to avoid them (flight) or we might become so paralysed (freeze) by the event that we start to isolate ourselves from her, and also others to avoid similar rejection.  

The reality is that rejection hurts, and for good reason.  

A study conducted by the University of Michigan in 2011, found that our brains fire in the same way for physical pain as it does for intense feelings of social rejection.  

Their research suggests that powerfully induced feelings of social rejection activate regions of the brain involved in physical pain sensation.  

There is no denying that we all experience rejection during our lifetime, and it can be painful and tough to endure. 

However, there are also times when our fear of rejection or unhelpful thinking can prevent us from taking that next step towards building stronger relationships.   

So what is the alternative?  

We could reframe our thinking.  

STRONGER TOGETHER: Saluting our region's senior citizens

Instead of listening to our little voice, and instantly reacting with a fight, flight or freeze response we could instead think, Huh. She seems to have something on her mind. I hope everything is okay. Must remember to touch base and check in on her.’  

Sounds too simple?  

Perhaps, as it does take time to unlearn patterns of thinking that you have spent years practicing! 

The key takeaway is this: reframing our thinking can be powerful.  

It can shift the focus from us to them.  

It can show our genuine care and consideration for others.  

For some this will come easily but for others, be patient.  

By reframing our thinking and becoming more curious about the behaviour instead of engaging in unhelpful thought patterns, we are opening ourselves up to building deeper, healthier social connections.  

You have got this. 

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director


We know the Bundaberg region has had one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country for some time, and the rate of disengaged job seekers is a serious issue.

In June 2020 national youth unemployment hit a 23-year high of 16.4 per cent.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Transition to Work helps youth into workThe Bundaberg Regional Council’s Bundaberg Jobs Commitment document states an estimated 10,000 Bundaberg residents are currently disengaged.

It found over a third of disengaged residents, an estimated 3,500, were youth aged between 15 and 24.

It is feared that if this section of the community continues this path, the inability to fill current job vacancies will constrain local business growth and encourage generational cycles of unemployment.

Not only does joblessness create economic uncertainty, but several unfavourable circumstances can be linked to unemployment.

Unemployment leads to greater disadvantage

Reduced savings and superannuation, and increased use of health services and pharmaceuticals have been identified at higher rates within the unemployed population; people have a reduced ability to buy nutritious food, housing and health care.

Transition to Work at IMPACT Community Services

Lower self-esteem and loss of self-identity can also impact physical and mental health as well as reduce one’s sense of contribution to community, leading to a number of concerning behaviours including depression, domestic violence, relationship breakdowns and drug or alcohol addictions.

It comes as no surprise that a lack of employment becomes a gateway to many other social and societal issues that are also evident in our region.

Understanding the consequences of unemployment is what gives our Transition to Work team the drive to keep young people engaged in their employment journey.

Transition to Work helps youth shift straight from school to employment

Too many of our youth are leaving school and becoming comfortable in the ‘job seeker’ void between ‘school leaver’ and ‘engaged in employment’.

Proposed solutions in the council’s Jobs Commitment document involves connecting employers with the region’s youth to inspire and assist them in making work and education decisions after school.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Saluting our region's senior citizens

Our Transition to Work program, an Australian Government initiative, assists school leavers and young people to understand what is expected in the workplace and develop the skills, attitudes and behaviours employers want.

We can also provide young people with access to our strong network of employers.

TtW offers more support than just finding a job

The dedicated team of Youth Coaches assist with identifying employment opportunities in the local area, developing practical skills to get a job, finding and participating in work experience placement opportunities, connecting with education or training, finding appropriate apprenticeship and traineeships and connecting with relevant local community services.

If you know of someone aged between 15 and 24 disengaged from education and seeking employment, phone IMPACT on 4153 4233.

Alternatively, if you are in a position to offer employment, please also get in touch.

Getting a job is pivotal to a young person’s ongoing success and wellbeing; let’s work together to improve our region’s future.

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