Safety is a major barrier to thriving for many people who work with YFS. In 2018-19, domestic and family violence continued to be a very common issue across all of our work, and many of the families we work with had concerns about the safety of their children.
Much of YFS’ work with families focuses on the safety of children. In its first full year, our Assessment and Service Connect service linked 232 families with services to support them. Assessment and Service Connect workers partnered with Child Safety staff during child safety investigations, assisting with the assessment process and expediting families’ links with appropriate supports.
Our Intensive Family Support and Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare teams took quite different approaches to build families’ ability to keep children safe in the Browns Plains – Beaudesert area. Across both teams we worked with 138 families, using case management in Intensive Family Support and family therapy in Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare.
Our domestic and family violence work continued to develop in 2018-19. We supported more than 750 victims of violence in the past financial year through our Beaudesert Domestic and Family Violence Service, our Women’s Advocates and the Project Hera initiative. Our Beaudesert team introduced a group program for mothers and children impacted by domestic violence, helping them rebuild attachment and overcome trauma.
Meanwhile almost 400 men took part in our perpetrator group program, Responsible Men. During the year we consolidated learning about the program, developing a facilitator manual based on emerging evidence about behaviour change and accountability for perpetrators of domestic violence.
YFS continued to support the Not Now, Not Ever in Logan Domestic Violence Community Action Plan in 2018-19. The Not Now, Not Ever cinema advertisement featuring Logan identities speaking out against domestic violence won the not-for-profit category in the 2018 Safe City Logan awards.
YFS introduced a Trauma Responsive Practice Framework in 2018-19 to help staff across our organisation understand the impacts of trauma on our clients. The framework acknowledges that many people seeking assistance at YFS have experienced trauma in childhood or later in life. Developing a deep understanding of trauma is helping our staff support people to create real change in their lives.
YFS and the Not Now, Not Ever in Logan campaign reference group will use a Logan City Council Community Projects grant and support from businesses to hang street banners in prominent Logan locations.
With police and government, YFS is exploring ways to address a growing problem of chroming among children aged 10 to 14.
Learning about collaborative responses to domestic violence
YFS and the Queensland Police Service worked together to develop Project Hera, which sees a YFS worker co-located with the Queensland Police Service Logan District Domestic and Family Violence Unit to provide information and referrals for people impacted by domestic and family violence.
A review of Project Hera in 2019 found that participants who had been victims of domestic violence reported increased wellbeing, stability and safety for themselves and their children. The co-location improved collaboration and information sharing between YFS and police officers, thereby improving responses to clients. By combining a timely service response with police intervention, Project Hera provided improved safety planning, relocation and security measures.
While the review noted the collaborative response improved support for victims, it flagged the need for perpetrators to be held accountable to prevent further violence.
Improvements in safety are notoriously difficult to measure. Many YFS teams monitor clients’ sense of safety or risk, and all show improvement through our work.
Our domestic and family violence services for victims currently have a blunt measure of whether clients show improvements in being safe. Outcomes are better for programs that work more intensively with women and children. Our Women’s Advocates are associated with our Responsible Men perpetrator program, and have a limited role.
In 2019-20 all three teams will introduce an outcome tool called MOVERS (Measure of Victim Empowerment Related to Safety) to provide a more sophisticated understanding of the impact of these services.
Improvements in being safe
Beaudesert Domestic and Family Violence Service
Meet the team helping men understand the impacts of domestic violence
It’s been 24 years since YFS launched a program for men who perpetrate domestic and family violence.
Today, the program is called Responsible Men and it aims to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and women.
Responsible Men uses group work to help men who have perpetrated domestic and family violence to identify the discrepancy between what they are doing and what they want most: to have happy families and be great fathers.