Women are at a greater risk of experiencing domestic and family violence during pregnancy and when they have young children. If violence already exists in a relationship it is likely to get worse at this time.
Typically, it is only during or after a crisis that a woman will seek support from family violence services, health services, police, lawyers and courts. Families at risk of experiencing domestic and family violence need to be supported earlier to help prevent violence from happening or escalating to a crisis.
Providing this early support was the topic of the Family Safety Hub’s first challenge workshop attended by representatives from the community sector, government, front line services, health and legal professionals. Attendees generated nearly 60 ideas for the Hub’s first challenge topic.
Our first co-designed pilot program is helping pregnant women and new families who are experiencing domestic and family violence to access free legal services through three health justice partnerships.
The service was prototyped and tested with more than 55 health, community and legal professionals, before the three partnerships were established at Calvary Public Hospital, Centenary Hospital for Women and Children and Gungahlin Child and Family Centre.
We know people tend to seek help from trusted professionals. The partnerships provided free and confidential legal advice in locations where parents go for health or family appointments and may already have established relationships.
The decision to leave a violent relationship can result in extreme financial hardship, even poverty and homelessness. Access to financial resources and housing is one of the most pressing concerns for people in the ACT when they are deciding whether to leave a violent relationship.
Domestic and family violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness in Australia, particularly for women and children. Women in middle income brackets experiencing domestic and family violence have trouble accessing support. In the ACT, more than half of women who leave a violent relationship lose their home within one year. Fixed costs such as a mortgage, rent, child care, utilities and legal costs can lead to financial insecurity after the end of a violent relationship.
Following a period of discovery research and insights gathering the Family Safety Hub held an ideas generation workshop with financial service providers, crisis services, housing providers and government agencies. The participants identified potential solutions that could help prevent a housing or financial crisis occurring and remove this as a barrier to someone seeking a pathway to safety.
The first idea generated during the workshop is now being developed for testing. This program is focused on recognising and responding to financial abuse. Financial abuse is a very common feature of domestic and family violence, but it is often not recognised, or not recognised as abuse, both by those affected and frontline services. We are working in partnership with Care Inc to design and deliver a program to increase the ability of frontline service staff to recognise when someone is subjected to financial abuse. We are testing our hypothesis that an increase in capability will mean people affected by financial abuse will be identified and receive the right support.
Domestic and family violence impacts all children and young people who live with it. They do not need to be directly assaulted, or even present, to be victims. Children and young people see and hear violence, work hard to navigate violent contexts and live with the fallout. Many children intervene to try to stop violence, or to defend a parent or sibling. Adults design policy and system responses, which fail to meet young people’s needs. To change this, we must understand the unique experiences and perspectives of young people.
The Family Safety Hub and the Children and Young People Commissioner partnered to listen to young people’s experience of domestic and family violence. Nearly 70 young people aged 13 to 24 shared their views or personal stories of living with family violence during in-depth interviews and small group discussions. We found young people wanted to talk about domestic and family violence and the supports and services they need.
Preliminary results confirm that children and young people’s experiences of family violence are different to those of adults. They need different supports and services but their experience is of a system response designed by, and for, adults.
By consulting with young people we have generated insights that will enable the ACT Government, the service sector and the community to improve support and services for children and young people affected by domestic and family violence.
The results of these consultations will be shared in 2020. The Family Safety Hub will then use the insights we have gathered from young people to inform new pilot project.