REACHING OUT: Desley Cunnington is a Centrelink Community Engagement Officer who supports vulnerable people locally, including providing support to people affected by family violence.
REACHING OUT: Desley Cunnington is a Centrelink Community Engagement Officer who supports vulnerable people locally, including providing support to people affected by family violence. Mike Knott BUN071217DESLEY2

DV REPORT: Families crack from Christmas

AS THE Christmas season is upon us, the pressures that comes with it start to slip through the cracks and more families become affected by domestic violence.

Bundaberg's Desley Cunnington knows what DV is like in Bundaberg, not because she has physically felt the impact first hand, but because she is the Centrelink Community Engagement officer.

The Department of Human Services is often the first point of contact for people affected by family and domestic violence.

Ms Cunnington sees the result of DV at all stages; from the physical to the mental scars it leaves on the people affected by it.

She said it did not discriminate and could affect those in the working-class all the way through to the homeless.

It does not affect only women and children but also men.

Speaking with the NewsMail she hoped to let the community know there was support in the region especially at this time of year.

She said violence in a domestic situation was very complex and spread widely through the Bundaberg community.

As the region's engagement officer Ms Cunnington she said it was about knowing the signs and sometimes it came down to speaking with the person one-on-one to help them.

Ms Cunnington said every case was different but she would often come across DV in her day-to-day role.

Her job is to help vulnerable people in their time of need with referrals, from financial help or counselling.

"We strive to provide support on a very complex and wide spread community issue," she said.

Last financial year, the department's social workers nationally received over 65,000 referrals where family and domestic violence was a presenting issue.

The staff at Centrelink are well equipped to identify people at risk and provide them with information, resources and support.

They can connect people who have left home due to family and domestic violence with local support services and Centrelink payments.

Ms Cunnington said the doors were open to help anyone in need at this time of year.

If people were not comfortable going to the Centrelink office they could start by going to humanservices.gov.au or phoning 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).



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