It doesn't matter ...... where you live
You have the right to live safely in your home
about the project
what else is happening?
For state wide SHLV
information and location sites follow this link-
Tasmania ‘Safe At Home’ Program
‘Setting the benchmark for the rest of Australia’
‘Philosophically and financially, Safe At Home, stands out from the government strategies and programs in place on the mainland, where similar individual aspects of the program may be in place, but where the level of coordination, commitment, resourcing and policing practice change are absent’
(Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse Newsletter 26 Spring 2006)
The ACT Family Violence Intervention Program
This is the original model for domestic violence integration in Australia, and as an outcome supports many women to stay in their homes. For information see
The Eastern Domestic Violence Outreach Service, Victoria EDVOS
This was the pioneering service which developed an outreach service to support women to stay safely at home. Contact:
The following is a presentation by Vanessa Kearney from EDVOS,
from the SHLV
I’ve been asked to come and talk with
you today about
- our work at EDVOS
- share some of our experiences in supporting women applying for exclusion orders.
In 2001, we received funding for a position that was to focus on supporting women, if they chose, to remain in the family home after an experience of abuse. One of its aims was to prevent homelessness for ♀ and children. This new focus lead us to reflect on:
1. The way that we work within our own service
2. The way we began to work in more closely with other services
3. What we’ve found
I’m really pleased to be able to say that many women in our region have remained in their homes safely, with an intervention orders that removed their partner. In recent years, we’ve seen increased awareness about the option (both with clients and service providers) and with it, growing momentum and support. Over the past three years our service as a whole has supported in excess of 150 women to remain in their home.
The key issue of this forum is really about providing choices to women. The bigger the range of options we can offer, the better. But sadly, we’ve found many women aren’t aware the option is available to them. I think, this has to do with responses to domestic violence historically and community attitudes.
Our work is guided by the goals (as identified and prioritized) by the women. We believe, and the assumption that underpins our work, is that the woman herself is in the best position to assess whether or not staying at home is a safe option to pursue.
- Who better to predict her partner’s response to the separation and exclusion from the house?
- Who better to gauge his level of adherence to the intervention order and respect for the police who enforce it?
- Who better that her to assess the likelihood he will carry out his threats? Who better than the woman herself?
As part of our work, we always carry out a risk assessment. Every woman’s circumstance is unique and will have its own set of risks and protective factors.
(Eg: the man who perpetrated a severe physical assault may be fearful of the police and of breaching the order because he needs a clear criminal record for his work.)
I continue to learn from the various outcomes or forms of evidence or creative ways she’s kept herself safe. So, when thinking about risk assessments, we look at each situation individually.
If our assessment of risk differs from the woman’s, we would try to work through that with her. Obviously, particularly when here are children involved, we have a duty of care.
LANGUAGE AND ASSUMPTIONS (we bring to conversations with women)
In the beginning we found quite a lot of resistance. We had heard many myths about exclusion orders (Eg: that its not safe for women, that magistrates don’t grant them, that it’s the domain the family court). The more women we saw successful in their application, the more confidently we were able to speak with women about the option. The more we were able to challenge myths.
Our beliefs (and experience informs those beliefs) about whether or not exclusion orders are safe / attainable / possible effect the way we approach an interview with a women. It effects the language that we use and the order in which we present the options to women. Those messages are coming out not only in what we say but in what we fail to say.
These messages that women receive, be they from us, the police, the courts, solicitors, their neighbours factor into her decision making. They are messages about what support she could expect to receive, what her rights and sense of entitlement is. Women need a unified message that tells them of their entitlement to the home and, that it is possible to use the legal process. This would perhaps give them more confidence to pursue an exclusion order application.
In thinking about the idea of a whole of community approach, we met with all sorts of services in the community and tried to raise awareness about the option. We wanted to break down the myths. We met with all sorts of services (esp those who refer to us) Eg: solicitors, local crisis accommodation services, Centrelink, hospitals, housing services, counseling and family support services. We explained the process of the court application and what support our service could offer - especially support in developing safety plans.
This lead us to thinking that most women experiencing DV don’t have contact with domestic violence services. So we decided to work in a more targeted way. We were conscious that the courts or the police were most often the 1st contact point for women
Our local Magistrate’s Court has a Domestic Violence I.O Support Scheme. This consists of a domestic violence worker from our service and two duty solicitors. All parties are given the opportunity to meet with a duty solicitor for legal advice before going into court.
We believe that court support programs, like the one in our and other regions, offer a really valuable service – to both men and women. We find that if men are supported at court and receive legal advice, they better understand the orders and are less likely to breach them. As an example, without legal advice, many men would be unsure of what – if any – limitations the intervention order places on their access with children.
More recently we’ve begun working with three local police stations within the Knox area on a police fax back program. These initiatives mean that we meet with women who may not have otherwise known about or accessed our service.
We’ve come to notice that the timing of contact with support services is really important. We understand that women often don’t contact domestic violence services until things have reached a point of crisis. Ideally, it would be most beneficial to meet with women and give them information about this option as early on in their experience of abuse as possible. This is desirable because women need time to make a well considered decision to think through the implications, to seek out legal advice and ensure that adequate plans are in place – most particularly safety plans.
We found that the overwhelming majority of women remained in their homes feeling safe. Breaches, if they occurred, were most often “manageable” (eg: harassing phone calls, hang up calls).
Of the 150 women we’ve supported to remain in their home, only a handful would have left because they no longer felt safe to be there. Some women left within the year following the order, mostly while they waited for a property settlement or for the reason that they were unable to maintain payments on the property long term.
This was still seen as a positive outcome. It meant that in the months post separation, (a really difficult emotional time and with all the other adjustments that were occurring) the women and children had the stability of remaining in their home.
In terms of court, we found that, if the woman applied to the court, most interim orders were granted ex parte. Surprisingly, few of the orders were contested (roughly half). Of those that were contested, we found that the court process was often more drawn out than anticipated.
For instance, if the matter was adjourned off to a later date (either because a court room not available on the day or if he had come without legal representation). Or, if the woman agreed to undertakings and these were breached it meant she had to return to court
For some women, receiving the information about intervention orders and familiarizing themselves with their rights was enough to enable them to remain at home without going through the legal process. These women may have presented the information they had gathered, along with their evidence of violence, to their partner who then left the home voluntarily.