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How you can make a difference with CVS volunteering

You are here: Volunteer
Last updated:
12/01/2022

If you’re looking for a place to start on that New Year’s resolution or desire to give back to the community, IMPACT Community Services’ Community Visitors Scheme is here for 2022.

And we’re looking for more volunteers to join our dedicated team.

The CVS is a friendship program linking volunteer visitors with people who are isolated at home or live in aged care facilities throughout the Bundaberg and Burnett regions.

For CVS coordinator Heather Hinsbey, the world of volunteering is among her passions rather than simply a job.

When Heather took up the CVS role in 2014, she had an understanding of the importance of a program which sought to provide connection, conversation, and compassion for the elderly who were in great need of company.

Not long after her mother passed away, Heather started volunteering too.

“It was therapeutic for me,” she said.

Heather said, “they were like mums”, full of understanding and they had many pearls of wisdom.

While she probably would have found her way to volunteering eventually, Heather said it was beneficial for her when she did.

She said volunteering was rewarding in many ways, particularly in gaining perspective, and even developing as a person.

Through CVS volunteering Heather said you gain an appreciation for what people have been through and how they have paved the way for future generations.

Heather said the CVS team was always looking for more people to join.

She also encouraged anyone with a culturally and linguistically diverse background with compassion for older people and an interest in volunteering to contact IMPACT.

She said people can be very socially isolated and this can be amplified for people with a different cultural background and if there’s a language barrier.

The CVS team has volunteers throughout Bundaberg, Gin Gin, Childers, Gayndah and Monto.

CVS 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.

Heather said the volunteers love what they do. Some have multiple people they visit!

If you would like to start the new year with some volunteering, call 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233.

For more information click here.

 

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

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on volunteering and IMPACT's Community Visitors Scheme.

As human beings we often need a sense of connection and community.

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

While solitude can be a form of relaxation and peace for some, social isolation for extended periods of time can have adverse impacts on one’s mental health.

This time of year in particular can be a very lonely time for people in our community who, for a range of different circumstances, are without close family and friends to spend time with.

But IMPACT Community Services volunteers are dedicated to ensuring they aren’t alone.

And we’re looking for more people to help us make a difference.

The Community Visitors Scheme is a friendship program linking volunteer visitors with people who are isolated at home or live in aged care facilities throughout the Bundaberg and Burnett regions.

The value of friendship and community interaction is truly priceless – as human beings, having a sense of belonging and self-esteem are significant factors of our needs and mental health.

If your mental health starts to be impacted, your sleep quality may be reduced, as can your self-care, while you may experience increased feelings of anxiety and/or notice a change in your behaviour.

Friendship and positive social interaction can improve self-esteem, stress management, confidence, and even moments of joy and laughter.

As a CVS volunteer your presence truly is a present.

Whether you’re there to have a cuppa and a chat, play a boardgame, listen to music or go for a short walk, you could be enriching the quality of life for the people you visit.

CVS provides a regular familiar face for an aged person to see and gives them something to look forward to.

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

Volunteer opportunities are available across the region in Bundaberg, Monto, Gayndah, Childers and Gin Gin.

If you’re looking to find a way to volunteer and give back to your community, the Community Visitors Scheme may be the perfect way for you to spend your time.

Regardless of skill set, we love engaging with people with varied backgrounds and welcome all volunteers as valued members of our team.

Call our CVS coordinator Heather on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233 to get involved.

It takes someone with a big heart to spend their time volunteering to help others.

And IMPACT Community Services’ Community Visitors Scheme is full of those people.

Recently the CVS held its annual celebration where dozens of volunteers were recognised for their contribution to the program and most importantly the lives they impact.

The Community Visitors Scheme is a friendship program linking volunteer visitors with people who are isolated at home or live-in aged care facilities throughout the Bundaberg and Burnett regions.

Having run for more than two decades, the program asks that you are able to visit a minimum of once a fortnight and spend time doing what you both enjoy.

Whether that be a game of cards, listening to music, playing a board game, taking a short walk outside, help to write letters, reminisce about days gone by or simply have a chat and a cuppa.

Simply having a presence can make the world of difference and ensure someone doesn’t feel isolated and alone.

Among the presentation were Certificates of Designation, 1 Year Certificates, a 5 Year presentation, two 20 Year milestones and one 25 Year award.

Those who attended the celebration were also treated to two live performances.

Barry Bishop sang two songs which captured the essence of friendship and togetherness which the program prompts.

While Melody the clown had just about everyone on their feet dancing before lunch was served.

For anyone thinking about volunteering, there are CVS opportunities available across the region in Bundaberg, Monto, Gayndah, Childers and Gin Gin.

Regardless of skill set, CVS love engaging with people with varied backgrounds and welcome all volunteers as valued members of our team.

Call our CVS coordinator Heather on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233 to get involved.

Desley and Doug Kuhn could be a recruitment poster-couple for the volunteer army. They got into it for all the right reasons and simply love what they do.

Desley and Doug Kuhn are incredibly happy CVS volunteers

“We pretty much just fell into volunteering,” Desley said during Volunteer Week. “I was visiting a friend and Charmaine asked if I would visit someone else as well.  Doug kind of just got ‘dragged along’.” 

Desley has a long history of volunteering. She grew up the daughter of a Rotarian in a Christian family, and they were taught to give back to the community and make it a better place for everyone.

“For us, the Christian principles of loving, respecting and caring were just the way life was for our family,” she said.

“My Dad, especially, was a very church and community-minded man.”

Today, Doug and Desley volunteer for a number of different reasons. 

“A very large part of it is how good it makes us feel to give pleasure to someone else,” Desley said.

“There are some truly amazing people living in aged care. They have had fantastic and interesting lives sometimes, and sometimes they are just lovely people to know. And they are so very grateful for your care and attention.  It makes you feel really good.” 

Desley says that as retirees, it could be so easy to just vegetate and in due course feel no longer useful or needed. But volunteering gives them a sense of purpose, a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and a feeling of being needed, loved and appreciated. 

Even while COVID-19 restrictions were in force, Doug and Desley kept up their friendships, albeit at a distance.

They built a fish tank and stocked it with goldfish and installed it in their garden, ran a raffle with the help of a local business, helped from outside the facility to run "The Monto Show Day", and produced numerous letters, signs, banners and patchwork quilts to keep in touch with their friends. 

“It's a feeling of being valuable in someone else's life.” Desley said. “And, believe me, there is nothing better than feeling needed, loved and wanted."

"We love our Timber Time group. The camaraderie around the table when all the ladies have paint on their hands, and the men are chucking off at them, and we are laughing at something funny or someone's memory of other times, makes something we all treasure.

“Also the pleasure we all get when we look at the Christmas and Easter decorations that we have made together and the folks are so proud of, and the joyful greetings from so many when we walk into the room. The lovely, handmade thank-you cards they sent us in Seniors Week will be treasured forever.”

Desley has the perfect advice for people thinking about becoming a volunteer.

“Everyone has a choice - whether to be a user or a giver.  If you are a user, you live in a community, make use of what is offered, but do not contribute or give anything of yourself.  If you are a giver, you'll be run off your feet.  Too busy to be lonely.  Too valuable to be overlooked or forgotten.” 

If you're not sure how to begin, she offers this advice:

“Anything that interests you interests someone else.  Find that someone else and you have made a friend.  Friends are very precious. You can't have enough of them,“ she said.

“Volunteering in an aged care facility is probably the most rewarding job either Doug or I have ever had, or are ever likely to have.”

Call IMPACT’s Community Visitors Scheme Program Coordinator Heather Hinsbey on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233.

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 VISITING OUR REGION'S SENIOR CITIZENS.

Our senior citizens make up a large part of our community in Bundaberg.

It’s important that the generations who helped build our region to what it is today are still treated as valued members of the community.

That’s where our Community Visitors Scheme shines bright.

CVS provides friends for older people

IMPACT’s CVS program has been operating in the Bundaberg region for over 28 years and provides much needed companionship to older citizens.

Loneliness has been linked to premature death and poor physical and mental wellbeing.

Statistics from 2018 show that instances of Australians experiencing loneliness increased from the age of 70, from 13% of the population to almost 20% in those aged 80 or over.

Caring for others has been identified as an important safeguard to prevent or reduce loneliness, which is why our CVS program is so vital.

Visits can assist in several ways, and they don’t always have to be in person.

This offers a compromise in times of COVID restrictions, a flu of any outbreak, or when a volunteer falls within a high-risk health category.

Visit an elderly person with IMPACT's CVS program

While many of our volunteers visit the elderly in their homes or aged care facilities, some of our visitors are trialing online communications through digital tablets.

We also offer these digital tablets as a way to play games and encourage friendships to flourish between the resident and volunteer.

Reading a book, listening to music or playing a board game are also very rewarding ways to spend time with an elderly person.

Technology based visits made possible with CVS program

Virtual Reality headsets are another method we are trialing through CVS.

Many of our elderly can no longer travel great distances, and VR provides a glimpse of life away from the everyday.

Some volunteers have had their participants riding roller coasters at theme parks and re-visiting their old childhood homes they hadn’t seen in years.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Celebrating our long serving employees

The benefits of visiting are endless, for both the visitor and the visited.

To further ensure our volunteers are also reaping the rewards of community and companionship, our CVS team hosts a catch-up each month.

This provides our valued visitors the opportunity to debrief and provide feedback, advice, words of encouragement and support for one another, as well as training opportunities for those who would like to use the tablets or VR headsets.

Catch us at the Bundaberg Seniors Expo 2021

If you’re interested in participating, our CVS staff will be at the Seniors Expo this Tuesday, March 23, at the Bundaberg Multiplex Convention Centre from 9am to 1pm.

Alternatively, phone Heather Hinsbey on 0448 035 891 to discuss your volunteer options.

Staying engaged and mobile are two pivotal keys to growing older happily.

Thanks to IMPACT Community Services’ Community Visitors Scheme, Dawn Fleming gets to do both.

Dawn has been reaping the rewards of IMPACT’s CVS program for about three months now and is very happy with the companionship.

“I enjoy the visits very much,” Dawn said.

Walking is an enjoyable pastime for Dawn, however it presents its own challenges.

“If someone comes along on a skateboard, I don’t know they’re coming, and they’re on top of you before you know it,” she said.

Dawn’s volunteer Tahlia Facer visits her weekly and joins her on walks to the corner shop, watering and pruning the plants in her greenhouse, sitting and talking together or playing Rummikub.

Creating companionship for both visitor and visited

Rummikub is a game where each player draws 14 lettered tiles to form words.

The first word made by each player must have at least 7 characters, then smaller words can be made after that.

“I’m learning new words from Tahlia which is a help,” she said.

And Dawn is not the only one learning a thing or two.

“I had never played the game before, so I get to learn new things from Dawn as well,” Tahlia said.

“I think the game is supposed to be played competitively, with each word accumulating points, but we don’t keep a tally and often help each other make words with the letters we have leftover.

“It really is a nice way to spend an afternoon.”

Find out more about becoming a CVS visitor

Volunteering with CVS creates a moment of pause

Tahlia said the opportunity presented a window of solitude in an often-busy life.

“Visiting Dawn, I get to take an hour for myself while simultaneously giving someone my time; it’s a win-win,” Tahlia said.

Tahlia is fortunate that her employer pays two hours a month towards volunteering.

“All I need to volunteer is two hours of my own time and I get to see Dawn for an hour each week,” she said.

“And it is true what Community Visitors Scheme Program Facilitator Heather says, ‘it’s not a job, it’s a joy’.”

Uncover your superhero within by visiting an elderly person.

Phone IMPACT’s Community Visitors Scheme facilitator Heather Hinsbey today on 4153 4233 or 0448 035 891.

The value of reaching out has assumed a special significance in this age of Covid separation and isolation.

And now that restrictions have been somewhat relaxed, it's the perfect time to forge connections to those who need them most.

IMPACT Community Service runs a Community Visitor's Scheme (CVS) which recruits and organises volunteers to visit elderly people in aged care facilities and also to clients in their own homes who receive a Home Care Package.

These visits provide that all-important regular contact.

It's a joy

CVS Program Facilitator Heather Hinsbey, who volunteers herself, said the program made the world of difference for those involved. 

“It's not a job, it's a joy,” Heather said. 

“Volunteering brings benefits to both the visitor and the person visited.” 

According to Heather, there is not one particular type of person that makes a good volunteer. 

Something to offer

She said everyone had something to offer. 

“Sometimes all the person needs is someone to play cards or games with or help with letter writing or even listen to music together,” Heather said. 

IMPACT’s volunteers are currently taking Samsung tablets out to teach some of the elderly how to Skype or use FaceTime to enable them to keep in touch with their friends or family during Covid. The tablets also can be used for podcasts, audible books or games and other tools to assist residents keep in touch with the latest technology, keep their mind active and prevent them feeling lonely or isolated. 

“We encourage people to think about volunteering as it’s one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to share the joy of companionship,” Heather said. 

If you would like to make a much-needed connection to those in need, contact Heather at IMPACT's Community Visitor's Scheme on 4153 4233 or 0448 035 891 or go to Volunteer Today | IMPACT Community Services

Dael Giddins has a long history of serving her community, so it was no surprise to anyone when she decided to sign up as a volunteer in IMPACT Community Services' Community Visitor Scheme.

But Dael was in for a surprise when she learned that her mother, Patricia Woodcock, was the very first IMPACT CVS volunteer in Gayndah. She signed up in 2002 and visited Gayndah's elderly residents for 10 years.

Dael's mother Pat also had a long history of serving her community and was keen to pass on that sense of social duty and responsibility to her daughter.

“Mum got me started in the Junior Red Cross,” she said.

Are you interested in volunteering? Learn more about CVS

Growing up, Dael's family didn't have it easy, and often struggled.

“But Mum was always ready to help others, even when it was a struggle to put food on the table.

And that lesson from her mum has been well-learned as Dael is well-known in her town for supporting her community, having started working in Local Government full-time from the age of 15.

She is a Division 4 Councillor on North Burnett Council but is also very active in volunteering endeavours.

She is active in community sport and has spent countless hours volunteering for organisations and currently holds executive positions within the Gayndah Rotary Club, Central Regional Little Athletics and Gayndah Orange Festival Committee, while being an active member of the Gayndah CWA (she opens and closes the CWA rooms every day),  and the Gayndah District Netball Association. 

Find out what other services are available at IMPACT

Dael has had a long association with Central & Upper Burnett District Home for the Aged (Gunther Village) and is now a board member for the facility. 

“Mum started the Gunther op shop 35 years ago to raise money to buy them equipment,” Cr Giddins said.

And Dael has honoured her mum's legacy once again at Gunther by working in the shop.

Her voice is filled with pride when talking about her Mum and her efforts in the community.

“Mum loved teaching crafts, playing cards, she just loved that interaction,” she said. “She was a very thoughtful person.”

Dael has only recently signed up to be a community visitor but she is really looking forward to providing a little bit of companionship to a resident who needs a friend, and has been trying to encourage others to sign up at CVS.

“You can do so much for someone by just a little effort,” she said, “but it makes a big difference in their lives. I encourage people to give up an hour or two of their time to make a difference in someone's life.”

If you want to find out more about volunteering call IMPACT Community Services’ Community Visitors Scheme coordinator Heather Hinsbey on 4153 4233.

IMPACT Community Services is at Hinkler Central this week

IMPACT Community Services is setting up a pop-up stall at Hinkler Central so if you've ever been curious about what we can do for you, come on down and say hello.

We'll be setting up just outside the Cotton On store from Tuesday, November 3 to Thursday, November 5.

It's a great chance to come down and have a look at the diverse range of support services we have.

We will have staff from key parts of the organisation to answer any questions you may have about training, job services and family and individual support.

Check out our range of support programs

For example, we have a new training course in hospitality starting November 16. Come and find out all about it.

And if you’ve ever thought about volunteering with IMPACT come and have a chat.

“Over the last 40 years, IMPACT has supported thousands of people to improve their life opportunities,” said IMPACT Managing Director Tanya O'Shea.

“It is therefore essential that we connect with our community to ensure that our programs and services remain relevant and accessible.

“These events are more than just an opportunity to promote our services. They are an excellent opportunity for our team to listen to the needs of people within our community.”

Find out what training courses are available at IMPACT

We will also be doing a very quick survey where people can go into the draw to win a $100 gift voucher and a huge jar of lollies. Just guess the number of lollies in the jar!

We'd love to see you and find out how we can support your dreams and change your life.

WINNER ANNOUNCED:

Congratulations to Julieanne, the winner of our guess the number of lollies in the jar competition. Julieanne picked up her winnings (a $100 gift voucher and the lollies) from IMPACT Community Services on Friday November 6.
She had the closest guess from all who took part in the lollies competition, which was part of our activities at our Hinkler Shopping Centre pop-up stall this week. For those who entered, the correct number of lollies was 166.
Julieanne had guessed 165. Her young daughter Catherine was all smiles as she checked over some of the winnings. A big thank you to everyone who showed their support for us this week.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Anyone is eligible to win the $100 gift voucher.

Entries are made by answering the IMPACT Community Services’ survey at Hinkler Central Shopping Centre 3rd - 5th November 2020.

1 free guess is provided upon completion of the survey per person.

The prize will be drawn on Friday the 6th November, winners to be notified by phone.

The results will be published on IMPACT’s Facebook page.

If the winner does not claim the prize within 5 business days, the voucher will be redrawn.

In the case of multiple correct guesses, a name will be drawn randomly.

This draw is run by IMPACT Community Services’ Communications Manager Adam Wratten.

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

"Stronger Together" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. Today Tanya looks at the incredible efforts made by our carers and volunteers.

Last week was National Carers Week, and in honour of the millions of carers around Australia I would like to this week touch on the incredible service of our local carers and volunteers who contribute to our community every day.

Carers are people who support friends, families and loved ones achieve their day-to-day needs. Normally when someone who might be aged, have a disability, an illness or a mental health condition needs care, it is provided by someone they know and trust. Sometimes people don’t even know they might be classed as a “carer”. People who care for their parents, partners, siblings or children can think their role of providing care is one simply of moral obligation. However, there is carer funding available for those who are eligible. It’s important our carers and volunteers are not only looking after their loved ones, but themselves as well, and there are supports available for that.

The selfless act of caring and volunteering makes a real difference in the lives of not only the recipients, but to service providers as well. Research has shown the act of giving provides a great sense of value and fulfilment to the volunteer too.

Volunteer with IMPACT

Our Community Visitors Scheme has been operating out of IMPACT Community Services since 1992, and for 28 years we’ve been connecting lonely people with volunteers with great success. However, like many face-to-face services, our CVS program has been hit hard by the restrictions implemented to manage COVID-19 effectively.

It is a sad fact that many of the people our volunteers visit are alone and lonely in aged care facilities. Many don’t have family or friends in the area, and do not get external visitors other than those established through the CVS program. We operate not only in Bundaberg but Childers, Gin Gin, Monto and Gayndah, and across the board we’re seeing volunteer numbers drop significantly as a result of Coronavirus restrictions.

Mental health and wellness has been a battle for many people throughout this pandemic, and our elderly are not excluded from that. Many of our volunteers find themselves falling within in the “at-risk” category and, with the addition of tight visiting limitations, very few visitors are now able to meet with someone to brighten their day.

We are working to overcome this hurdle by connecting digitally. Our CVS program has sourced electronic tablets to assist in this space and facilitate a virtual meeting. We are encouraging anybody who has a spare hour each week, or even fortnight, to connect with a lonely person in aged care. It really makes the world of difference.

According to Volunteering Australia, the top reasons why people volunteer are to help others, for personal satisfaction, to do something worthwhile, to gain social contact themselves, and to be active. Volunteers also provide an economic benefit, with an estimated $14 billion of unpaid labour served each year. It’s safe to say not only Bundaberg but the entire country come to a grinding halt if it wasn’t for the commendable gift of time our volunteers give. Let’s give thanks to their efforts and encourage others to take up the amazing act of volunteering and caring for our treasured senior citizens.

Of course, as restrictions begin to ease in this space, we are facilitating face-to-face visits. If you’d like to get involved, either virtually or in person, you can contact our CVS Coordinator, Heather Hinsbey, on 0448 035 891 or 4153 4233.

Stronger Together with IMPACT's Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Today Tanya takes a look at mental health ahead of Mental Health Week

Queensland Mental Health week is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. As a workplace, IMPACT Community Services values the mental health and wellbeing of our people. We aim to create a safe space by sharing our stories, encouraging self-care practice, and providing opportunities for debriefs and check in’s just to remind each other that we care.

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

Supporting and encouraging mental health within the workplace is now common practice, with a significant shift in society’s attitudes paving the way for greater acceptance of mental health problems and increased support being provided to people who may be experiencing some issues. Some workplaces have developed their own internal resources and frameworks for increasing mental health awareness within their business, whilst others rely on the vast array of free resources available online.

The Queensland Government’s ‘Dear Mind’ draws inspiration from the Wheel of Wellbeing, sharing tips and information linked to health, learning, kindness, connection, taking notice and nature. The site also assists individuals to create an activity deck, a highly personalised selection of activities tailored to support and improve mental wellbeing.   

A wealth of resources

Today, we have choice and opportunities available to take charge of our personal mental wellbeing. The resources available online provide great inspiration and suggestions for how to get started. Yet, many people recognise the benefit and know where to find the information but have done nothing about it. Now I say this with compassion and not judgment as I completely understand that people are time poor and may be left wondering, ‘Who has time to fit something else into their day?’

Interested in volunteering? Contact our CVS program today.

My personal belief is that we need to make the time. We owe it to our partner, our kids, our family, our friends. Most importantly, we owe it to ourselves. On a plane, the flight attendant will always remind us to put our own oxygen mask on first before assisting others. If you have not got it on already, the time has come to put on that oxygen mask. Lalah Delia suggests that ‘dself-care is how you take your power back’. Power comes from taking back control over your choices and where you spend your time and energy. Power comes from taking care of yourself first.

Time for action

To achieve this, we need to take action. So, to get started, consider focusing on one thing that really matters to you. One of my goals was to establish a consistent morning routine that would enable me to be in control of how I set myself up for my day. Realistically, this is a huge goal and felt so incredibly overwhelming that it took time for me to take any action. After a while, I decided to chunk it down into some smaller goals that felt more realistic and achievable, with a focus on doing one thing at a time until it became automatic.

My one thing that mattered to me was to stop looking at my phone when waking in the morning. It mattered because I am aware that within the first eight minutes of waking up, our brain is more flexible, providing a great opportunity to take control of this time and feed our minds with positive information. Checking text messages, social media accounts and scrolling through emails during this time will instead hand this control over to someone else. Doing this each day might sound simple, however it took some time to break my pattern, decide on what I wished to focus on for that eight minutes and necessitated the phone being moved into another room while sleeping to avoid the temptation to check it. However, it eventually became automatic, and once achieving that goal, I set a new goal and when it became automatic, I set another. After many years and lots of experimenting, I have found a morning routine that works for me and incorporates self-care practices that effectively support my personal mental health.  

Mental health week

Queensland Mental Health Week (October 10 to 18) is the perfect opportunity to start doing that one thing that will support you. Whatever you decide to do, remember what works for someone else may not work for you. Keep experimenting and do not give up until you find that one thing that matters to you, and then be consistent and practice it daily. If you forget to do it, be kind to yourself and pick it up again the next day. Above all, be persistent, hold that one thing tight and remind yourself why you are doing this. It’s not selfish to make time for your mental health. You are worth it.

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

Today, 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.

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