ALLOWING community agencies to share information about domestic violence cases is a positive step in protecting more women and children from abusive homes, a Brisbane social worker said.
Good Samaritan Housing community co-ordinator Joanne Davies said the recent changes to Queensland legislation on domestic violence allowing specialist agencies to share information was a positive change.
Ms Davies also commended the Queensland Government for including laws to immediately protect children for the first time.
“Anything that offers additional protection to mums and children is positive,” Ms Davies said.
“Sharing information is important, especially between state government, local and community organisations.
“It’s really quite important when you have a child at risk.”
Ms Davies supports up to four families at Good Samaritan Housing, a Brisbane-based private organisation providing independent accommodation for homeless or at-risk single mothers and children.
Established by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan in early 2015, Good Samaritan Housing offers housing for up to four single mothers and children up to four years old.
“We get the mums moved in, they get settled, and I work with them on personal development and skills,” Ms Davies said.
“Our goal is to try and create independence, not dependency, in a supportive sense, so major issues are dealt with from the word go.”
Most families stay in the centre for up to 12 months before assessing if they are ready to move into independent living in the community.
Many of the families seeking support have also been affected by domestic violence.
Ms Davies said the new domestic violence laws would re-inforce her own professional work to ensure safety in the home.
“The home is an important place for children to have that protection (from violence),” Ms Davies said.
“It’s important that the area where they are is kept a safe place.”
Based on her previous work with homeless families in Bristol, United Kingdom, Ms Davies said a multi-agency approach that encouraged sharing of information between agencies and community groups protected women and children better than isolated support.
“It’s got to be handled right,” she said.
“To me, from my background, it’s a multi-agency response.
“A multi-agency approach works really well because each group sees a different side of the family’s life.
“It’s not just the police’s responsibility only to care for the families.
“I am working with them in the home environment, but the police can offer legal advice, while the health carer provides the regular check-ups.
“Everybody’s got a part to play.”
By Emilie Ng