In the year 2020-2021, we supported a total of 1681 women and children
Ally*, a woman in her early twenties and her infant son were referred to the Nepean service for Transitional Housing. She had very little family support and endured severe domestic violence from her ex-partner. He removed the 2 older children from her while he had access to them.
After DCJ’s involvement, the children were removed from the father and placed into care as Ally was homeless. She had been homeless for the last 6 months and was couch surfing at a friend’s house. Her aim was to have the other two children restored into her care and live a life free of violence.
With close support from her case worker, she engaged in DV education, social outings and worked closely with DCJ. The case worker experienced Ally’s transformation from a lost and almost broken young woman to a young woman starting to blossom. She had a new outlook and hope that wasn’t there when we just started supporting her. Ally was starting to believe she deserved better, and that she was worthy.
Ally’s case worker went above and beyond with her advocacy and worked closely with DCJ for the family to be reunited. Seven months after she entered our service, we supported her into entering a short-term residential restoration support service to start the process of bringing the children back into her care in a supported way.
Thanks to her case worker, Ally was able to return to the Transitional Housing Property after her children returned into her care. She is now in a stable and in a safe situation and ready to start the next chapter.
“Alana* was referred to DV West late last year whilst heavily pregnant with her 8th child. She and her children fled an extremely violent home and they moved in with Alana’s family in a 3-bedroom house. However, the owner of the house would only allow Alana to stay for a few weeks or he would double the rent on the house which the family couldn’t afford.
Alana was let go from her job earlier in the year and due to her citizenship status, she wasn’t eligible for any Government support or subsidies. Her only income was the Family Tax Benefit. To assist Alana, we provided weekly groceries for her and her children.
After the baby was born, she started to look for suitable housing for herself and her children. After searching for a house for 7 months, attending several inspections per week, Alana was able to secure a house for herself and her children close to her parents’ house.
Her case worker helped her apply for Victims Services Immediate Needs Support Package to help with relocation costs and furniture, which was granted. The case worker assisted Alana with a safety plan, linked her in with a counsellor, and encouraged her to attend parenting and DV education groups.
Alana and her children moved have now into their home and they are slowly settling in and making it their home. Alana feels more empowered and confident about the future. RizeUp assisted Alana with some furnishings for her home to make sure that the family has everything they needed.
DV After Hours
Our case worker began working with Nadine*, who had divorced her husband both in her faith and legally but was still living with him and their children under the same roof.
When our case worker met her, she was very scared. He had told her throughout their marriage that if she ever left, he would kill her and everyone she loved. She had put a padlock on the inside of her bedroom door and was cooking in her room on a gas stove. She had lost a lot of weight. She was just too scared to use the family spaces in the house. She wanted to leave but she just didn’t know how. A month after Nadine first met her case worker, whilst out one day, her child rang her and explained it was no longer safe for her to come home. With only her handbag she went into Temporary Accommodation and has never looked back.
Together with her case worker she was able to acquire Temporary Accommodation. The case worker worked with Nadine to made sure she had essential items and food over the next few weeks. She was supported with organising legal advice and successfully applied for Start Safely. After a lot of advocacy from the case worker, Nadine got accepted for a rental application. The volunteers from RizeUp fully furnished her home. When Nadine walked into her new home, she cried happy tears because she just couldn’t believe this kind of support was available. She was supported in applying for an immediate need’s payment through Victims Services to compensate for having to leave everything she owned behind, which she received. She also got access to a counsellor. With DV West’s help, she installed security cameras at her new place, replaced belongings and she was able to pay back a friend who helped her. She now a safe home that her children visit and have beds. She is studying at university, and she feels like life has started again.
Kelly* a 40-year-old Aboriginal woman and her 4 children were referred to the refuge after fleeing her home due to her violent ex-partner recently assaulting her. Kelly previously lived in another state and relocated to Sydney after fleeing a violent ex-partner. She was planning to start a life free from violence.
In Sydney, she started a new relationship with a man who became physically violent towards her in front of her children. Kelly would call the police regularly for assistance and eventually he was charged. He blamed her for being in goal. He had family members and his new girlfriend intimating and stalking her as well as reporting back to him so that he could use that information against her.
Kelly and her children entered the refuge during the COVID-19 pandemic and received support with safety planning, applying for victim services, counselling, financial counselling, domestic violence education, as well as support for her children such as schooling and advocacy.
The impacts of COVID-19 restrictions impacted this family’s mental health and wellbeing. We provided the family with intensive supports so that they were able to come together as a family and find suitable and safe accommodation within local distance from her family for additional support.
The Aboriginal woman and her children are happy and settling into their new long-term property and still engage with the service and support worker in an outreach capacity.
Hue* and her two children moved from South-East Asia to live with her husband in Sydney. Immediately after relocating to Australia her husband’s behaviour changed. He began to socially isolate her, was financially abusive, tracked her movements via technology and used her immigration status to intimidate and control her. Over time his patterns of abuse escalated and he became increasingly verbally abuse and made threats to physically harm her and their children. Eventually, she phoned DV West seeking support to leave the abusive relationship. She was assisted to develop a plan and provided with practical assistance to safely leave with her children and enter the refuge.
Before she came into the refuge, she had been significantly disadvantaged in accessing support services due to her limited spoken and written English. She had no access to money and had no knowledge of what her legal rights were. We provided her with interpreter services and supported her to successfully apply for Centrelink, seek legal and immigration advice, and to make a statement to police.
While at the refuge Hue and her children were supported with Victims Services support applications, Start Safely subsidy, domestic violence education, culturally appropriate counselling, emotional support, parenting support, and developing and implementing a transition plan. It was very important to Hue that her children continue their education from the refuge and her case worker liaised with the school so that they could continue to learn remotely. We also provided technology and worker support to assist the children.
After eight weeks at the refuge Hue was successful in obtaining rental accommodation in the community. She was supported to apply for a rental bond loan, sign her lease, connect utilities, and safely transition out of the refuge. Hue and her children are healthy and happy in their new home and continue to receive outreach domestic violence support.
When I first met the DV West team and the Counsellor (Dorothy), I was distressed, emotionally vulnerable, faced with some really challenging personal events. The loss and grief I endured for 6 months prior to meeting Dorothy had me ready to give up. Through her gentle, safe, and supportive approach I slowly opened up, and was able to process the complex emotions and mind frames I was becoming accustomed to. She got me to write down my needs and values which gave me a start with learning what was important to me and my family. She used visual descriptions of how my mind was working and how I could learn to re-design my unhealthy mental beliefs.
Dorothy taught me coping mechanisms for when anxiety attacks happened out of the blue. They are now barely noticeable as I manage the emotions before they get on top of me. I shared with her my setbacks and my achievements, she showed excitement for my wins and compassion for my failures. I felt safe. I felt heard. I felt valued and supported. I used to worry if I was good enough, smart enough or valued. After working with Dorothy, I now know with all my heart I am.
I am also finally back in full time work and studying at university. I can juggle my commitments and family life more confidently knowing that no matter what I face I will get through it.
My son has even benefited as I am now more resilient, confident, happy, excited and open to changes in life. He has learnt we all face challenging times, but we all have the chance to try again and do things differently. My life has been forever changed and I deeply and sincerely thank Dorothy for her support and counselling methods.
Feedback about our case workers
“Thank you so much, this wouldn’t have been possible without your kindness and help, I really do appreciate everything you’ve done for us and for the level of care you’ve shown. I feel you are forever my sister. God bless”.
“Knowing you will be at Court makes the world of difference. There is a song I listen to all the time. It reminds me of you. It talks about the day someone finally believed them. That is what you did, you just always believed me when even I know it sounded so unbelievable. Thank you. I have no idea how to thank you but thank you”.
“I achieved all my goals with my case worker and I was assisted in every way possible. I was blessed to find this place. Everyone is supportive, professional, and there for me all the time. I don’t know how I would have got through this without you.”
“After being supported by you, everything is going so well for me and the kids ☺️ I am still at my job and have recently been promoted and am doing a training now. Things couldn’t get any better.”
“You have made many of my worst days feel that much lighter and the ‘small’ things you do make all the difference. Thank you for being you”
“Working with my case worker is like life support for me. I have never received emotional support like this before. The care advice and support from my case worker and DV West is amazing. I take my hat off to her and DV West. Thanks.”
Feedback about our services
“I’ve had a sanctuary to heal in and the most brilliant support in sorting my life out”.
“I will be forever thankful and blessed for the support at Court”.
“My DV worker was good and always there for me. The service helped me out when I was down, put food on my table when I couldn’t afford to. To be honest, I would have struggled heaps of times but didn’t because of the support.”
“I believe this organisation doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The staff are amazing and the refuge was great, it had everything a mother and her children need. We felt safe. Thank you for helping my children. Sometimes I sit back and watch them and think, are they really my kids? We were all so broken when we came to you but now, we are mending and loving our new life. Thank you again.”
“My favourite thing about the holiday which the refuge offered me and my son was trip to the zoo and especially the seal show. The seal was waving and clapping, and my one-year-old son was squealing with joy at the sight of this. The holiday was very beneficial for us as it gave us time away from the refuge to have fun together”.
“The refuge was the life saver that I needed. By allowing a safe place to sleep, I was finally able to unlearn the behavioural patterns that kept me in the abusive cycle. They taught me the life skills I needed to be able to live independently. “
“I was able to keep my cat, who is the only family I have left, which was highly beneficial for my mental health and my sense of hope for the future. “
“I want to thank DV West for helping me through the hardest and most scariest time of my life. And for all the support with everything: moving, housing, court, and emotional support.”