RELEASED October 18, 2021
Gold Coast women, putting their lives back together after experiencing domestic family violence, can now get specialised, trauma-informed support when searching for employment.
The Standing Strong program, delivered by community services organisation Social Futures, helps women impacted by domestic family violence reclaim their economic independence by finding stable employment. The program is supported by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women.
Social Futures Senior Program Manager Linda Hayes said the service has been developed around the needs of women who have experienced domestic family violence and could be a first in Australia. (Other domestic violence services offer employment supports but this is a specialised employment program for women impacted by family violence situations.)
“It is a new program, and it is being launched in Australia for the first time on the Gold Coast, where the incidence of domestic violence is above the national average,” Ms Hayes said.
Queensland Police recorded 3,175 domestic violence order breaches on the Gold Coast last year. That’s an almost 400 per cent increase over 10 years. The Gold Coast Southport Magistrates Court also had the highest number of DVO lodgements in Queensland in 2019 at 2,603.
“This is an employment service totally tailored around the needs of women who have been impacted by abusive relationships,” Ms Hayes said.
“The Standing Strong program provides customised support and empowerment plus trauma-informed case management. Our workers have specialised skills in this area, and we can help women access education, training and work opportunities.
“We know there is a much greater risk of women becoming homeless after leaving violent relationships and many also face financial hardship. More than 40 per cent of women homeless today have experienced domestic family violence.
“That is why Social Futures have designed this unique program, which is supportive, flexible and will be tailored around the needs of the women taking part.”
Gold Coast businesswoman heralds the arrival of Standing Strong
Tamika Smith, the founding director of the national offsite construction and affordable housing company My Bella Casa, who fundraised for a new home for the family of the late Kelly Willkinson, has welcomed the arrival of the Standing Strong program.
“As a woman who had grandmothers living in the social housing system, I believe in building stronger foundations for today’s generation of women,” she said.
“I am encouraged to hear Standing Strong is on the Gold Coast. Its aim is to help women who’ve left tragic circumstances set up a positive future and take the reins in their life.
“Women in these circumstances need to know there is a path forward, and they are not alone. As a woman, understanding your own self-worth takes courage. Having the courage to know – I deserve more, often means leaving a hard situation and venturing into the unknown.
“It is great that Social Futures is helping women become financially independent and with that comes an increased degree of control over your life.”
Program welcomed by Gold Coast woman who grew up with domestic violence
Gold Coast resident, Jacque Opie, frequently witnessed her father assault her mother while growing up.
“As a child, seeing my mother abused by my father left me feeling helpless and hopeless. When my mother finally left, we didn’t know day-to-day if we would have money for food and the essentials.”
Ms Opie said the traumas of her childhood led her to write books about healthy relationships between men and women and self-care, and work as an inspirational speaker.
“I understand that sometimes women stay in abusive relationships because of finances. Standing Strong is for women who have left violent relationships and helps them build a future by gaining employment.”
Standing Strong will work collaboratively with employment service providers, and can help local businesses to access apprenticeship support, wage subsidies and other initiatives where applicable. Social Futures, has expertise in finding employment for vulnerable community groups.
Women and employment service providers interested in learning more about Standing
Strong can phone (02) 6620 1800 or visit the Social Futures website page – https://socialfutures.org.au/service/standing-strong/
PHOTO (L to R): Jennie Linton, Tamika Smith, Linda Hayes and Annie Heslin.