Programs

Townsville Family Violence
Support Service

Services

Townsville Family Violence Support Service

Townsville Family Violence Support Service is a domestic and family violence support service assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing and/or using violence. This service is trauma informed and delivered within a healing framework, prioritising victim safety and working to reduce perpetrator use of violence and abusive behaviour.

A careful distinction is required here: family violence occurs when one person in a family uses violence or abuse to control another person, while domestic violence occurs between romantic partners. The family violence perpetrator could be the victim’s father or mother, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, brother or sister, grandparent or cousin, son or daughter. Family violence is complex to understand, often entrenched through generations, and can be difficult for a victim to navigate.

Ultimately, the program’s goal is to achieve best outcomes for families by keeping families safe. Best outcomes can mean many things – from working with offenders to proactively change entrenched behaviours, to supporting clients to access and understand protection orders, court support, counselling, case management, information or referrals. The issue of family violence is often ingrained within families across many generations, and this is where the early intervention piece is critical to the long-term solution. This program is unique in that it deals with both perpetrators and victims to attempt to break the cycle of family violence.

At the core of this service is education. From YML’s experience working with domestic and family violence victims, there is a misconception that a protection order is ‘only a piece of paper’. At the same time, perpetrators sometimes don’t understand the conditions of their court order to avoid violating the order. The Townsville Family Violence Support Service works closely with victims and perpetrators to understand court orders. At the end of the 2019-20 financial year, the service had commenced early trials of a 12-week Men’s Behaviour Change Program led by an Indigenous Elder.

To respect Indigenous culture, the support service is co-managed by one female and one male manager, Brenda Lucas (Manager Women’s Shelters) and Anil Kaithakulath (Manager Dale Parker Place, Breaking the Cycle and Reverend Charles Harris Diversionary Centre), and employs two case managers, also one male and one female.

The service also employs one counsellor to provide emotional support and guidance for those experiencing family violence, and is able to access use of a child counsellor via YML’s Flora House Women’s Shelter. The child counsellor is experienced in working with children who have experienced trauma. Both counsellors are familiar with the complex issue of family violence.