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Throughout the year, our strong focus on supporting women and children to rebuild their lives after experiencing violence and trauma continued.
In December 2019, we officially opened new housing for single parents, including women and their children who may have had experience with domestic and family violence, as part of BaptistCare’s Community Housing activity.
From March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic and public health orders saw families being asked to stay at home, things changed dramatically for women and children who were living with violence in their homes. There was a spike in demand on help-lines such as 1800 RESPECT, while other services reported a drop in demand or shift in the type and severity of violence.
We too experienced a ‘worrying silence’ with many women afraid to reach out for help. We made ourselves more available with staff rapidly adopting technology and working remotely, checking in on existing clients while providing new clients with options for support.
It remains unclear exactly what this health crisis will mean for many women and their children, but our domestic and family violence services will continue to respond through our medium-term supported accommodation, HopeStreet locations and case workers, Counselling and Family Services counsellors and group programs and no interest loans for women.
We also continue to deliver our Men’s Behaviour Change program, Facing Up, providing men with an opportunity to move beyond familiar and destructive patterns of violence and create safe and respectful relationships, with 72 men completing the 20 week program this financial year.