During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (25 November – 10 December), Brisbane Youth Service (BYS) welcomes new reforms and initiatives announced by the Queensland Government after advocating for a coordinated response to address the high rates of domestic and family violence (DFV) experienced by young people.
Last week, the Palaszczuk Government committed to invest $100 million to provide enhanced support and protections to those caught up in domestic violence, a watershed reform program responding to recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Police responses to DFV (the Commission).
BYS Service Delivery Director Di Mahoney attended the Commission on 25 July 2022 to speak to a submission from BYS outlining the professional observations of the culture, capability, capacity, and structure of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to respond and investigate violence that involves young people.
“72% of young people seeking support from BYS have previously experienced family violence, a leading cause of youth homelessness, putting them at greater risk of continued cycles of abuse and violence within families or DFV victimisation,” said Ms Mahoney.
“Our submission to the Commission focused on three main observations from consultation with BYS managers and practitioners who have first-hand knowledge of working with young people experiencing and managing DFV relationships:
- Young people often lack confidence in the QPS to respond effectively to DFV;
- QPS responses to DFV were often handled poorly for young women with complex needs (including young women from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds, First Nations young women, young women with complex mental health, young women who use Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD), and young women with criminal histories) including minimising the risks and misidentification as the perpetrator; and
- The need for trauma-informed and non-judgemental responses for young people experiencing DFV.
“Many young women seeking support from BYS have had a history of sexual abuse, and report that they feel their experiences of sexual violence are too often not taken seriously.
“QPS responses need to acknowledge that young women may minimise violence and/or remain in violent relationships for multiple reasons, including safety, and recognise that it may take multiple attempts to leave a violent relationship.
“QPS need to apply a non-judgemental, trauma informed framework to their responses and importantly prioritise the promotion of safety through a constant and reliable response.” she said.
The Queensland Audit Office recently released a report Keeping People Safe from Domestic and Family Violence which incorporates findings from the Commission, including specific recommendations around DFV responses for young people.
These include increasing the number, range, and quality of rehabilitation programs, including specific programs tailored for young people.
BYS is actively working to reduce the impacts of violence on young people through a range of innovative and integrated programs.
BYS is leading the Queensland trial of the K.I.N.D program – an individual intervention for young people using violence – in partnership with colleagues at Youth Justice and the Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS).
The K.I.N.D program is showing enormous potential to break the cycle of violence through working with young men (and family/partners) to better understand their own experiences of violence and manage their emotional regulation in a safe way that enables positive relationships. To date, the program has worked with 39 young people, and Griffith University is conducting an evaluation of the K.I.N.D program.
BYS also supports young women and children through the Safe Relationships Program, employment of a Youth Domestic & Family Violence Advocate, a Young Dads Worker, Young Women’s Housing, Young Families groups, and other early intervention strategies that work with DFV.
D** (K.I.N.D. graduate BYS July 2022) said:
“K.I.N.D. taught me a lot about myself – more than I already knew. It helped me to get a better understanding of how to deal with my anger. It gave me a lot more skills to deal with the things that are going on in my life and the tools to succeed in life instead of failing all the time.
Because of K.I.N.D., I am much calmer at school, I can separate myself from unhealthy situations, and I have better relationships. I am now able to communicate with my new partner about my needs, instead of just hiding them or getting angry”.
H** (K.I.N.D. graduate BYS May 2022) said:
“I feel this program has shown me how to deal with situations in a more positive way.
Before the program, I only knew one way of dealing with things and in hindsight, it was the wrong way.
I think this program is easy for a variety of people to understand and is helpful in teaching people how to have healthy happy relationships”.
Read more about the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and the UNiTE Campaign theme ‘UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls’: https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/unite/16-days-of-activism
Read more about the QPS Inquiry: https://www.qpsdfvinquiry.qld.gov.au/
Read more about the Queensland Audit Office report Keeping People Safe from Domestic and Family Violence: https://www.qao.qld.gov.au/reports-resources/reports-parliament/keeping-people-safe-domestic-family-violence
Read more about the K.I.N.D. Program: https://brisyouth.org/breaking-the-cycle-of-violence-this-youth-homelessness-matters-day
* % of all young people who exited support in 2021-22
** Identity withheld to protect privacy
Brisbane Youth Service
P: 0481 558 783 E: email@example.com
- Each year, Brisbane Youth Service supports thousands of young people in crisis (aged 12-25 years) and young families, and the demand continues to increase significantly each year.
- The number of requests for assistance from young people has increased by 88% over the past 3 years.
- In 2021-22, 72% had experienced family violence, 63% had a diagnosed mental health issue, 44% were homeless, and 21% were young parents
- Most were also experiencing a range of other complex issues and barriers such as:
– 76% were in unsafe, unsuitable or unaffordable housing
– 54% had no or poor family support
– 45% had experienced past relationship violence
– 23% had current legal issues
– 18% had no source of income
Since 1977, Brisbane Youth Service has been working to create new futures for vulnerable and at-risk young people (aged 12-25 years) and their children, providing free, confidential services including: crisis and transitional housing; emergency relief; physical and mental health services; alcohol and drug interventions; and specialist programs for young women and young families.