Kathy, an Aboriginal mum and her 5 children were referred to Wirrawee Gunya from Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) as she had a long history with the service due to extensive domestic violence reports.

The Aboriginal mum was met at the children’s school by a worker from DCJ and was advised that she had to leave her property today or the children would be removed. DCJ arranged temporary accommodation for the family until they contacted Wirrawee Gunya and made the referral for emergency accommodation support.

Upon entering the refuge, 3 of eldest children were prone to frequent abusive and violent outbursts due to the behaviours they were exposed to by the children’s father. The relationship between the mum and her children was fragile and needed supports in place to mend and grow to be a happier and healthier one.

When working with caseworkers from the refuge, it was identified that the client needed additional supports with caring for her children, so staff arranged for a full-time support worker to assist mum and the children with caring responsibilities. This full-time worker was able to provide additional structure and supports after hours and on the weekends.. This supported the client in improving her parenting skills.

Kathy did not fully comprehend the toxic relationship that she was in or the effects it had on her children, her parenting and her own self-esteem. Staff arranged for Kathy to attend a domestic violence group. The group work helped Kathy realise that the life she was living was not normal, this knowledge was empowering, and she became very engaged in the program. There was noticeable change in her self-esteem. After the DV Group Kathy joined a social group with other women who had lived experience of domestic violence.

Staff spent time with the children so Kathy could take turns at having individual time with each child to mend and build their relationships further. Staff arranged appointments with paediatricians and other relevant specialist to meet the health needs of the children.

Kathy wanted to return to the area in where she had her family supports. Staff advocated with the Department of Housing to secure long-term housing for her and the children. She was placed on the emergency priority list and after 7 months was provided with a suitable home for her and the children in the area that she wanted.

With the support of the staff, the client’s case was closed with DCJ and the family was linked in with additional supports. Without the comprehensive support of DV West it is likely the children would have been removed. Instead Kathy and her 5 children are all together and they are no longer living with the threat of violence.