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DV Project Report 2004-2005

 

The past and present staff members of the project:

Domestic Violence Policy Officers: Monica Mazzone (July 2004 - March 2005) and Kyungja Jung (June 2005- the present)
Domestic Violence Project Officers: Rukshana Sarwar (from September 2005 – up to the present), Mariam James (September 2005 – up to the present), Maria Eva Tingson (Relief Worker: June 2005 - up to the present), Toni Palombi (Community Development: February – April 2005), Rajni Chandran (September 2004 – April 2005), Breda Dee (September 2004 - May 2005), Jayantha Alwishewa (July 2004 - February 2005) and Violeta Craney (July 2004)

The Domestic Violence (DV) team has been actively involved with campaigns, support and advocacy for casework, training, networking with other agencies and the development of resources. The DV team has been monitoring government submissions and programs and responding to them. We have also developed resources such as the Competence Package for Doctors and Nurses, and Audio CDs on DV and Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) in 5 different languages. The key activities for this year are:

Family Law Campaign

In November 2004 the government released a discussion paper outlining a number of proposed changes to Family Law as well as the establishment of Family Relationship Centres throughout Australia to assist parents in the process of separation. Speakout wrote a submission in response to the discussion paper. Some of the concerns highlighted were; the push for a shared parenting model of child custody arrangements, the lack of legal representation at sessions with Parenting Advisers in the Family Relationship Centres, the need for parent to attend the Centres or other primary dispute resolution before being able to apply to the Family Court. Nong-English Speaking Background (NESB) women will be extremely disadvantaged in this system, as they often lack the language skills and the information on the legal system in Australia.

SAAPV
(Supported Accommodation Assistance Program)

Speakout has been campaigning for increased funding with New South Wales Council for Community Services (NCOSS) and other SAAP peak organisations. SAAP is the joint States/Federal program funding services for homeless people, including refuges for women and children escaping domestic violence. SAAP is funded in a 5 years cycle. SAAP 4 was finished in June 2005 and negotiations are currently underway between the Commonwealth and the States on funding of SAAP 5. In the meantime, the existing SAAP agreement has been extended until 30 September 2005. Services have been arguing through their peak bodies that an increase of 25% is necessary simply to maintain services at current levels and a further 15% to address unmet demands. At this stage, the Commonwealth has only offered an increased indexation of 2% per annum and an “innovation pool” of $106 million. Service viability is under threat without an increase in core and recurrent funding, making it more difficult for women and children escaping from domestic violence to find the support they need.

Campaign for Free Interpreting Service

Speakout continued to contribute and put efforts in the campaign for retaining fee-free Interpreting Services for service providers. As a result of this community campaign, free interpreting service has been extended until June 2005 and the interpreter issue was raised in the negotiations on SAAP V.

The Competency Package for Doctors and Nurses

A short but exhaustive information sheet for GPs and nurses on their role as “competent persons” in the DV Provision regulations was developed. The information sheet was widely distributed and well received. It is expected to help women in obtaining statutory declarations from GPs. The statutory declaration is one of the evidence women could use in proving that they are victims of DV and eventually access the DV Provision of the Migration Regulations. This was a project of the NESB DV Network convened by Speakout.

The Audio CD project in 5 community languages

With financial support from the Law and Justice Foundation, Audio CDs on DV and AVOs in 5 languages were developed for the communities where low literacy has been identified as an issue. The languages identified are: Arabic Sudanese, Dari, Dinka, Krio, Somali. The CD has been distributed to service providers and is available on the Speakout website. The CD was aired over SBS Radio as well as community radios.

Acceptable Behaviour Agreements (ABAs)

Speakout participated in the NGO Reference Group for the implementation of ABA to highlight concerns for DV clients and provided feedback on draft policies for ABA pilot projects. A positive outcome was that ABAs will not be applied to a tenant who is subject to DV and if the perpetrator is the one causing the antisocial behaviour.

Other partnership with organisations

As the Women’s Service Network (WESNET) NSW representative, the former DV Policy Officer Monica Mazzone participated in various DV campaigns initiated by WESNET.

International Networking

As the current DV policy officer Kyungja attended Women’s Worlds 2005: the 9th International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women in Seoul, South Korea in June 2005, representing IWSA and building close networks with NGOs, academics and practitioners across the world. She presented a paper entitled Dilemma of Sexual Assault Centres: the site of the women’s movement or social service in Australia.

About 3,000 scholars and members of women’s groups from 80 countries took part in this world women’s congress. Under the theme Embracing the Earth: East-West/North-South, participants discussed and explored the increasing economic and political disparity between the North and South and the contesting images of East and West. Nearly 2,100 papers were presented over 500 sessions throughout the conference. The issues included sex trafficking, child prostitution, feminisation of poverty and women’s human rights under the conditions of political unrest and social instability. The keynote speakers included Gertrude Mongella, the first woman president of the Pan African Parliament; Irene Dankelman, the ecologist renowned for the concept of “sustainable development’’ Sheila Jeffery from Australia, feminist economist Nancy Folbre; and Ueno Chizuko, Japan’s representative women’s studies scholar and social scientist.

We will continue to build partnerships with related organisations locally and internationally and will carry on identifying and developing initiatives to address DV related issues migrant and refugee women are struggling with.

Casework

This has been a heavy year as the various Domestic Violence Project Officers came, left and moved on to other horizons in their lives. We have had 108 on-going clients and from those 75 do not have permanent residency. The forms of support provided and the number of times that referrals have been made to agencies on the following services: counselling

(180, this includes referrals), immigration (66), court support (8), accommodation (referral) (28), legal assistance (referral) (42), and income support (referral) (9). One-off clients whom we provided face-to-face advice and support totaled to 104 cases. Advice provided over the phone numbered to 254 sessions and face to face advice totaled to 128 sessions.

The feedback from clients on the quality of provision of service is highly commendable and they verbally expressed that they learned to be more assertive and gained self-confidence. There have been a couple of hiccups but these were resolved and they were happy of the outcome.

Training

We ran three (2) trainings in Domestic Violence Provision of the Migration Regulations, both were held in Sydney. There were 25 participants in total and most of them gave a very positive feedback on the training outcomes and recommended that this type of training should be a must for all community workers providing services for CALD women in DV situation and are in temporary spouse/partner visa status.

We ran two Cross-Cultural DV training sessions this year. Thirty (30) community workers attended the training and the evaluation result indicated that the training sessions are very informative and useful in their service delivery. Through this training we also developed and maintained close links with relevant government organisations and NGOs.

Community Development

The Domestic Violence Project Officers endeavoured to take initiative in providing information in the prevention of domestic violence in the community as a whole and in particular among NESB communities. They have provided information sessions to several ethnic communities such as Tamil and Filipino and others. Community workers sought assistance and advice from our DV Project Officers.

Although our DV Project Officers have had very intense and complex cases on their caseload, they were able to do very substantial work on community development this year. The highlights are:
(1) have held discussions with the Parramatta Police Domestic Violence Liaison Officer and the Ethnic Communities Liaison Officer on strategies to assist NESB women experiencing domestic violence who present themselves at the Police Station (2) consultations with the Immigrant Women’s Health on developing partnerships in running DV Women’s Support Groups in response to clients needs (3) brainstorming with Stepping-out to develop partnerships in providing support to adult survivors of child sexual assault (4) participated in regional DV committees and migrant inter-agencies when necessary or as requested to raise issues regarding NESB women and their children (5) Resourcing the South West Sydney

Women’s Conference held in March 2005 at the Parramatta Town Hall, raising awareness of Green Valley DV Team on cross-cultural issues of NSB women and we continued our networking activities by participating in interagency meetings.

Professional Development

The DV Team participated in short-term training, courses and seminars particularly those that are relevant for casework, for example Family Law, Domestic Violence Provision and others. Together with the rest of the IWSA team we have had an updating training on how to write an annual project report. All these professional development activities provided us with minimum skills to improve our service delivery and reporting our project outcomes and outputs.

We are now working on having a stronger DV team, in terms of professional development and team-building, and consolidate our efforts in providing appropriate services to our clients within the framework of good and best practice in service delivery policy and procedures.