Not now, not ever: the initiative helping Mossman’s domestic violence survivors
- 2 October 2020 1:43PM
Women experiencing domestic violence in the Far North Queensland town of Mossman are getting help through a life-changing initiative funded under the 2020 Dignity First Fund.
The initiative aims to provide information and support to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women live independently. It’s coordinated by the Mossman Elders Justice Group and auspiced by the Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation.
“I loved it all. It’s made me feel more confident, and I’ve learned a lot of things that are good for me,” says 28-year-old Kate, who took part in September this year after experiencing a violent relationship.
“The talks about healthy relationships made me realise how much I want to be in a good relationship for my kids, to have a home and a job.
“And hearing from a real estate agent about rentals and what’s involved in a tenancy was really helpful.”
Along with her four children—aged 3, 7, 10 and 11—Kate was forced to move in with family.
“When women decide to leave a violent relationship, it can often lead to homelessness, couch surfing or living in overcrowded homes,” says Shelly, the female domestic and family violence coordinator with the Elders Group.
“So a lot of women stay in these relationships until it gets so bad they are forced to leave.
“What we’ve done is create an initiative to empower First Nations women and break the cycle of homelessness and domestic violence in Mossman.”
A total of six one day sessions are part of the initiative. The sessions are taught by local facilitators and topics include independent living skills, rental laws, tenancy skills, healthy relationships, technology skills training, online banking, job support and budgeting.
“Our facilitators have a special connection to the community here,” says Shelly.
“They understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and they are trusted by the women.
“We’re also frontline. We put feelers out to get referrals from local services and police.”
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Shelly distributed care packs to the community in place of the face-to-face program. The packs included hygiene products, information about COVID-19 and domestic violence, recipes, pencils and mindful colouring books in a dry bag.
If you need help or this story has raised issues for you, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.