SFF have developed the first integrated state-wide emergency and crisis accommodation and support family violence / disability response. Comprehensive assessment of risk and needs, safety planning, intensive case management and case co-ordination, and referrals all form part of a continuum of response that looks to provide safety, individual outcomes, community connection and the most appropriate accommodation available.Our early intervention program is called “Safe at Home”. Through a referral pathway with Centrelink the Safe at Home program has evolved to offer women and children a range of options and to make choices about remaining safely in their community. It identifies the more subtle forms of violence (emotional, social, financial, cultural) at a much earlier stage and at a time when women may have a wider range of options and greater degree of personal strength. These forms of violence are often perpetrated against women with a disability as we have identified that the families supported in our Safe at Home program are presenting with disability, in particularly children with a diagnosed cognitive/intellectual disability. With early intervention the perpetrator can be excluded, safety strategies implemented, and appropriate community supports put in place whereby the woman is able to stay in her own home and her own community. Negotiated responses from Justice, Police and community agencies has resulted in women not being forced to enter the cycle of homeless, but to have increased safety whilst still remaining connected to their communities. This program currently provides a response for the Eastern Region and is has limited capacity due to funding resources. We are happy to be contacted for secondary consultation and an assessment for support if we have capacity to do so. We are wanting to gauge demand for this type of response to assist in our efforts to lobby for further resourcing. We have supported 160 women (this number does not include children) in the past 9 months through the Safe @ Home program. All women and children come through our emergency response where they are supported intensively to ensure their individual needs are identified and options are sourced that are appropriate for their individual situations and for outcomes that the women themselves have identified.Our crisis response provides accommodation and case management support with ongoing support whilst in transitional housing. Disability Intensive Case Manager that is able to work with women longer term – upto 12monthsThe specialist children's response team focuses is on identifying the children’s individual support needs and works holistically with the case management team to support the family. We are seeing a large number of families are present at our service with children with a disability –particularly aspergers and autism
As a result of a Nation Building grant we were able to redevelop the communal model site into a cluster development. The existing refuge building was redesigned to convert a 5 bedroom facility into three fully self contained units and a children’s well being room. An additional two purpose built units were constructed on the same site. Three of the units were fitted out with universal access facilities enabling the establishment of the first integrated family violence/disability crisis accommodation response in Victoria.
The service’s Disability Action Plan sets out specific outcomes that will:• Reduce and eliminate barriers in our service and programs for women and children with a disability escaping family violence• Be a leader in best practice in our universal access planning and service provision.• Strengthen advocacy and partnerships within government and non-government departments and community services to address and eliminate barriers• Reinforce a culture that celebrates the diversity of all people who work in and access our service.
The analysis of good practice indicated that collaboration is a highly effective way to address service gaps in both sectors and to decrease barriers to the provision of a family violence / disability response. It is crucial that family violence and disability services developed and sustained collaboration to build local, regional and state wide sources of specialist advice, secondary consultation and education about women with disabilities experiencing family violence. Another significant issue raised in research was the lack of integration across the family violence and disability service sectors. The Disability and Family Violence Crisis Response Initiative will assist women &/or with a disability experiencing family violencewho may require immediate disability support to access a family violence crisis response while exploring longer term housing and support options or require immediate disability support to remain safe in the home or community. The supports are provided for a maximum of 12 weeks while the woman works with her Family Violence Worker to develop a plan for her longer term arrangements.
Bianca Truman at 'Sowing the seeds of change' DVRCV Forum
Responding to women and childrenwith a disability experiencing family violence
Safe Futures Foundation (formerly known as Brenda House and Maroondah Halfway House) is a Regional and State Wide organisation providing an early intervention support response, and emergency, crisis and transitional accommodation and support response to women and children who have experienced family violence
SFF have a strong commitment to a holistic approach to the provision of support for individual women and children. Stabilising housing, health, social connection and safety issues are the primary focus of case management that is client focussed and client driven for each individual woman and child. Access and equity is of paramount importance to the agency: all women have access to the service regardless of age, race, ethnic origin, political or religious beliefs, disability or disadvantage.
Early Intervention Emergency Crisis Transitional Intensive Case Management Specialist Children’s Response Disability response across all service delivery areas
Historically women have had to accept what the service system offered, often even when it did not address their individual needs or circumstances. SFF focuses on each individual woman and child and their specific outcomes. Following extensive consultation with women and children, it was determined that cluster model accommodation reduced inherent barriers and the subsequent discrimination that communal model accommodation imposed
SFF was successful in lobbying government for building modifications that have now provided; 3 emergency response universal access units, with multi use options for small and large families 2 3BR crisis houses for a longer support period Features of the some of the units include independent access, lowered kitchen facilities, modified bathrooms, front loading washing machine and access to communication technologies
SFF lobbied successfully for joint funding from Homeless, Family Violence and Disability divisions of the Department of Human Services to employ a project officer to: Develop a Disability Action Plan template for specialist family violence crisis accommodation and support services Build relationships across Disability, Family Violence, Homelessness, Family Services, and Home and Community Care sectors.
Develop policy and practice guidelines for both service sectors to ensure appropriate and consistent responses are provided to clients. Identifying training requirements and opportunities for staff across the service systems. Participate in relevant Regional and State wide networks.
Women with disabilities continue to be at risk of being assaulted, raped and abused at a rate of at least twice that of women without a disability Research identified that family violence agencies needed to improve access to their services for women with disabilities SFF Disability Action Plan
Working collaboratively across all sectors to ensure access and equity to women and children with a disability experiencing family violence