Bundaberg men are asking for help not to commit violence
WHETHER it's physical, emotional or psychological, abuse of any kind is unacceptable, and yet for hundreds of women, men and children in the region it's their reality.
Since the start of the year, Bundaberg's Edon Place has supported nearly 200 new clients - 144 women and 39 men.
Harrowingly, those number are likely to increase.
Service director Lyne Booth said number of people affected by domestic and family violence was increasing with victims of "all types of abuse" seeking refuge at the local centre.
While more women are reaching out to services at Edon Place for sanctuary than men, they offer programs designed to help male perpetrators.
In fact, the growing number of referrals for their men's program has seen them introduce an additional program which will start next month.
"We do have men that make contact with our centre inquiring about our Responsible and Respectful Choices men's program," she said.
"Therefore, referrals to this program can be self-referrals - men who contact us directly, referrals from external organisations and intervention orders.
"We will be running an additional program commencing March 2020 due to the increased number of referrals."
Ms Booth said the program was designed to assist men who have perpetrated domestic and family violence to control, intimidate, and/or coerce intimate partners and/or family members.
She said the goals of the program were to expand men's understanding of the wide range of behaviours used to control partners, increase men's awareness of the intentions and thinking that support their choices to abuse and increase men's understanding of the impact of their abuse on themselves, their partners, children, and others.
The program is also designed to challenge men's efforts to deny or justify their abuse and attempts to minimise or shift responsibility; increase men's motivation to engage in a process of change that supports safe, equitable and respectful relationships; and support them in creating specific plans for ensuring their partners safety.
Phoenix House has also had a recent surge of domestic violence clients according to director of services Jason Rushton.
He said women were still predominantly the ones looking for help but men were coming forward.
"We do have men that have come forward about being abused either physical, psychological or sexually by their partners," he said.
"What is important to note is, that men who have mental health issues, tend not to seek help for their anxiety, depression and PTSD caused by domestic violence, either viewed as a child or throughout their adult life."
Mr Rushton said there were also men currently requesting supports around anger management and parenting supports.
In the past month he said there had been an increase for more home supports and counselling.
"We have seen an increase for children affected by DV, who are referred to our Bumblebees Program to learn coping strategies and emotional regulation," Mr Rushton said.
"Furthermore, we offer protective behaviours not only to educate our young children, but to educate youth and adults to identity safe and appropriate behaviours in our everyday lives.
Mr Rushton said in their services they have noticed more people in the LGBTIQA+ community seeking help.
"Phoenix House has seen an increase in men seeking supports since we have employed male counsellors, as psychological supports are lacking for men in our community," he said.
Mr Rushton said they have seen a greater increase in mental health issues in our region, and there was not enough resources to meet our community's needs.
"This is not only due to DV, but living in a lower social economic area, unemployment, Increased drug use, AOD, homelessness, and the list goes on," he said.
Wide Bay Burnett Vulnerable Persons Unit Officer In Charge Senior Sergeant Tanya Walters said in January last year the VPU was established across the District to work collaboratively with government and non-government stakeholders to respond to high-risk Domestic and Family Violence reported matters.
Sen Sgt Walters said they worked with stakeholders to ensure the safety of victims and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions, whilst engaging them to relevant DV services to provide necessary intervention and support to change abusive behaviours.
Sen Sgt Walters said this interagency engagement has been successful throughout the past year and in December 2019 the VPU was given permanency within the District.
Sen Sgt Walters said this collaboration strengthened case management of at risk victims and perpetrators.
When asked why she was involved in the Vulnerable Persons Unit, she said it was because "We all have a community responsibility to address this complex social issue" and the QPS is committed to keeping the community safe and building relationships with stakeholders to achieve this.
With an office in Bundaberg, Maryborough and Gympie, each office has a Domestic and Family Violence Coordinator and VPU officers working alongside Domestic and Family Violence specialist practitioners to review and case high risk domestic and family violence matters on a daily basis.
If you need help you can phone:
•EDON Place - 4153 6820
•Phoenix House - 4153 4299
•DVConnect Womensline - 24 Hour Domestic Violence Hotline - 1800 811 811
•DVConnect Mensline - 9am until Midnight - 1800 600 636
•Kids Helpline - 1800 551 800
•Policelink - 131 444
•Emergencies - Police/Ambulance/Fire - 000