I want to tell everyone, family violence happens to [anybody], no matter how nice your house, no matter how intelligent you are”.
Rosie Batty, 2016 Australian of the year and family violence survivor and advocate
Domestic violence is a growing concern in not just Queensland but throughout Australia. The effects of COVID lockdown and restrictions have exacerbated the problem. DV Connect, a not-for-profit organisation that provides specialist domestic, family and sexual violence crisis counselling and support, for example, has reported a 30% increase in domestic violence related emergency calls and many Family Court actions, since the COVID19 restrictions came into force.
RATG is proud to be part of the cluster of 6 Rotary Clubs in the Western part of Rotary District 9600’s Action Against Domestic Violence initiative; other Cluster clubs are Rotary Clubs of Kenmore, Karana Downs, Paddington, Brookfield and Toowong.
Each Club has signed off on their Cluster DV Strategic Plan, focusing on action against domestic violence in three key areas: emergency packs; infrastructure support for shelters and educational support to school children.
In 2019-20, RATG donated $10,600 to many frontline community groups providing emergency assistance, such as Zephyr Education Australia; Immigrant Women’s Support Service, and Brisbane Domestic Violence Service. We also donated $2000, like each of other sister clubs in the Western Cluster, to leverage another $24,000 from Rotary’s District Grants. The $36,000 from the Western Cluster of Rotary Clubs helped DV Connect to upgrade their telephony system, adding an automated recording device. Such a device will enable DV Connect to record emergency calls and support the victims with information that could be used as evidence in our courts. We also coordinated collection of donations of blankets, doonas and flannelette sheets from The Gap residents for delivery to Zephyr Education Inc that supports children in shelters. Where exactly Zephyr has delivered these items, we will not know because of privacy and safety concerns of the DV victims.
Rotary Ashgrove The Gap Safe Kids Program
Family violence affects more than the adults involved. Of those women who experience family and domestic violence, over 50 percent had children in their care. One in 4 children are exposed to family and domestic violence.
Exposure to violence harms a child’s emotional, psychological, and even physical development. Children who have witnessed domestic violence may often exhibit key negative behaviors, such as aggression or bullying, anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. They also feel socially isolated, and often are unable to make friends easily due to social discomfort or confusion.
Rotary Ashgrove The Gap developed its “Safe Kids Program” in response to concerns about such negative effects on children. One of the RATG’s ‘Safe Kids Program’ activities is aimed at providing names and phone numbers of age appropriate child welfare organisations, support agencies and people children can talk to, in confidence, and seek help about family violence. This goal is very similar to, and a subset of the goal, of the ‘Safety Bag Tags’ Initiative of the Neighbourhood Watch Queensland The Gap (NHWQ The Gap), that aims to provide children and teens with information to help deal with bullying, cyberbullying, sexual harassment and self-esteem, as well as family violence.
NHWQ The Gap implemented the first phase of its ‘Safety Bag Tag’ initiative, supplying age appropriate bag tags to students across Payne Road State School, St. Peter Chanel Catholic Primary School, and The Gap State High Schools (yrs 7 to 9). This phase of the ‘Safety Bag Tag’ Initiative was implemented with financial support from the local community group, Boomerang Bags The Gap & Surround, Cr Steve Toomey, The Gap Ward, and The Hon Kate Jones, Member for Cooper. RATG also contributed close to $900 to help complete the delivery of tags (called ‘Bag Buddy’ for primary school kids or ‘Bag Mates’ for high school students) to every child in these three schools.
The initiative has been warmly welcomed by children, parents and principals, sending is comments such as:
A Child: “My new Bag Buddy makes me feel happier, more safe, make me feel relieved that there are places I can call to talk about things, and make me feel like I can help others.”
A Parent: “My daughter received the Bag Tag and came home and excitedly told me and her younger (Kindy aged) sister all about the Tags and what their purpose is.”
Principal St Peter Chanel, Margo Carwardine: “Our students enthusiastically attached the tags to their bags. This is a great community initiative, with the best interests of children at heart. It was very consultative by seeking feedback to enhance the product.”
RATG and NHWQ The Gap Partnership for the Safety Bag Tag Initiative
Given the similarity of the goals of RATG and NHWQ The Gap initiatives, we are proud to forge a partnership called Safety Bag Tags Initiative, to distribute ‘Bag Tag Mates’ to all schools in our catchment, and beyond, and keep our children safe. The ‘Bag Tag Mates’ will contain age appropriate information, including names and phone numbers of child welfare organisations, support agencies and people children can talk to, in confidence, and seek help, regardless of whether they are experiencing sadness, anxiety or depression due to things happening in their lives in schools or at home, such as from bullying, domestic violence or peer group harassment.
In August this year, the Federal Parliament Federal Member for Ryan, Julian Simmonds, spoke about the importance role the ‘Safety Bag Tag’ can play to help kids know who to contact and where to go for help. He also acknowledged the partnership between NHWQ and RATG to extend the availability of age appropriate bag tags tailored to each school in Ashgrove and The Gap, in the first instance. https://www.facebook.com/218022128795332/videos/332707154748702/
At this stage, we plan to expand the Safety Bag Tags Initiative across every school in The Gap and Ashgrove, and seek expression of interest from you – teachers/ principal, parents and/or P&C.
We are hoping every school will embrace this initiative and help keep our kids safe.
Please note this page is still under construction.