Practical resources for victims of family and domestic violence
Every year, millions of Australians experience family or domestic violence. The impact can be far-reaching, causing social isolation, unemployment, financial destitution, injury and, as we have seen too many times in this country, death. Here are some helpful resources.
There are a number of support services available to people impacted by domestic or family violence.
In addition to national and state-based help lines such as 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) and DVConnect (1800 811 811 for women or 1800 600 636 for men), there are also a number of practical support services that you may not be aware of.
To assist you, we have compiled a list of these helpful services which have dedicated teams or specially equipped plans that are ready to support you.
Many of the big banks offer support to customers who are experiencing domestic and family violence and specifically, financial abuse. They have staff that are trained to provide confidential, trauma-informed support to customers experiencing domestic and family violence in special care teams who can provide customers with:
- Assistance in changing passwords or PINs, setting up new accounts, stopping access to redraw facilities on loans and updating the signatory requirements on joint accounts
- Financial hardship assistance, such as breaks from repayments, reduced payments for fixed periods or direct cash assistance
- Complimentary financial and/or personal counselling sessions.
Under the National Employment Standards, all employees (including casual and part-time employees) are entitled to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave every 12 month period. This leave:
- Is available in full when an employee starts working at a new workplace
- Does not accumulate from year to year if it is unused
- Renews in full at the start of each 12-month period of employment
- Can be taken as a single continuous period or separate periods of one or more days.
If you are relying on this leave, an employer can ask for evidence of family and domestic violence, such as documents issued by the court, police or family violence support services or a statutory declaration.
Residential Tenancies Authority
People experiencing domestic and family violence while living together in rental accommodation have rights under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. This applies whether they are a tenant named on the tenancy agreement or not. In particular, a person can apply to the Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal (QCAT) for an order to:
- Be recognised as the tenant
- Remove the name of the perpetrator from the tenancy agreement
- Restrain the perpetrator from causing further damage or injury
- Prevent the victim’s personal information being listed in a tenancy database where a breach of the tenancy agreement is a result of the actions of the perpetrator or
- Terminate the tenancy agreement altogether.
If a person is making an application for a protection order to a Magistrate’s Court, the person can also make an application for the above-mentioned orders under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accomodation Act 2008 to the Magistrate’s Court, rather than to QCAT.
To support victims of domestic violence, Australia Post can provide free mail redirection for up to 12 months and a one-off option of free PO Box access for up to 22 months. You can apply for this in person at any Post Office in Australia. To access this you will need to provide Australia Post with a copy of a court order, statutory declaration from the police, or notice on an approved letterhead from a supporting agency.
Pets in Crisis
Sadly, in circumstances of family or domestic violence, pets are often subjected to physical abuse or threats of serious harm. Abusive partners commonly perpetrate harm against pets to frighten and control someone into staying in a violent relationship. In fact, research shows that up to 25 per cent of women living in violent situations with a pet may remain in that situation because of concern for the welfare of their pet if they leave. The Pets in Crisis program is delivered by DVConnect, in partnership with RSPCA Queensland. It provides a safe house for the pets of families or individuals who are at serious risk of domestic violence. It gives families or individuals a chance to find safe accommodation while their pet is cared for at either an RSPCA Animal Care Centre or with trained RSPCA foster carers. The care is intended to be temporary until the pet can be reunited with their owner.
Discrete help in public – Ask for Angela
“Ask for Angela” is a patron safety campaign that initially began in pubs and clubs in England and has since spread around the globe. Various communities and organisations have now rolled out the campaign which encourages anyone who feels unsafe in hotels, pubs, clubs or restaurants to ask a staff member for “Angela”, which is a recognised code word. If someone asks for “Angela” in a venue, staff will discretely respond by assisting that person out of an unsafe situation.
If you need advice on a domestic or family violence issue, or any other aspect of family law, contact Michael Lynch Family Lawyers on: (07) 3221 4300 or email: [email protected]