Last updated 21 November 2017

Making a safety plan

A person living with domestic and family violence should consider developing a safety plan for their own benefit and that of their children. Regardless of whether the person decides to stay in the relationship or is thinking of leaving, they need to think carefully about safety. It is recommended that assistance is sought from a domestic violence service to develop a safety plan.

The following steps can assist with safety:

  • creating signals for neighbours or friends to let them know help is needed
  • keeping spare keys to the car, house and important documents in an easy to find position
  • educating the children about the safety plan, for example how to call 000, where they can go to for help (e.g. neighbours) and practicing how to get out of the house quickly and safely
  • contacting a support service for information, counselling and support, and dialling another number afterwards to prevent the partner using the ‘last number redial’ facility on the phone
  • being mindful when researching ‘domestic violence’ on the internet as the partner can review the history of internet searches
  • buying a separate mobile phone for emergencies and ensuring it is charged and has credit
  • opening a separate bank account and saving a portion of the income
  • protecting children from seeing or hearing any violence and abuse from the partner
  • considering obtaining a Domestic Violence Order.

If the person decides to leave the relationship, it is advisable to take the following:

  • any court papers such as domestic violence or family law orders including divorce orders
  • Centrelink details
  • birth certificates
  • school and medical records
  • money, bankbooks, cheque books and credit cards
  • keys to house and car
  • driver licence and car registration details
  • passports, visas or work permits
  • mortgage details or rental agreements
  • unpaid bills in the aggrieved’s name
  • insurance documentation
  • mobile phone and charger
  • photographs, jewellery or any items of sentimental value which may be destroyed
  • favourite items of the children including toys
  • adequate clothing.

In the event that essential items have been forgotten, police may be able to assist the person to return to the home under their protection to retrieve any other items.

Emergency accommodation

Refuges, safe houses or shelters can provide safe and secure accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence. The location and details of these refuges are kept confidential and are not available to the public (see Contact Points for details).

Refuge staff can assist with supporting women and children during this time and offer accommodation referral services, financial counselling, emotional support and legal support. Most refuges require a weekly financial contribution to cover costs. It is generally determined according to the income of the aggrieved.

Further information on emergency accommodation can be obtained from DV Connect Crisis Support Queensland Womensline.

Centrelink emergency payment

It is important to contact Centrelink and advise them of the change in circumstances. An emergency payment may be possible if it can be established that the aggrieved had to leave their home due to domestic violence. This payment is not a loan and is not repayable, and it will assist with the costs of re-establishing a home.

Victim Assist Queensland

Victim Assist Queensland is the Queensland Government scheme focussing on assisting the recovery of victims injured as a result of an act of violence through provision of financial assistance outlined within the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009 (Qld). Expenses, such as child care, home relocation, change of name, storage, upgrades to security, furniture, white goods, rent at an emergency shelter, medical, and dental and counselling expenses, may be met if an application is successful.

Domestic violence and employment

It is advisable for a person experiencing domestic violence, to discuss their situation with their manager or supervisor as they may be entitled to compassionate leave, sick leave or annual leave. The Queensland State Government has introduced a new category of leave and encouraged public sector agencies to introduce policies and procedures for people experiencing domestic and family violence. This was a recommendation of the 2015 Not Now, Not Ever—Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland report. For further information contact the Public Service Commission (see Directive 4/15).

Devising a safety plan for leaving and arriving at work, and making sure to use a variety of routes to and from work or having someone to walk with to the bus or train may be wise. Employers do have a duty of care to provide a safe and healthy workplace. The employee may wish to discuss with their employer some measures such as changing their direct phone line or transferring to another work station. If there is a domestic violence order that prevents a respondent from attending at a place of employment, that information should be disclosed to the employer so that they are aware of the situation and can then take protective steps to ensure safety at work.

Domestic violence and the older person

Unfortunately, many older men and women experience domestic violence from their spouses, partners, family or their caregivers. Older people find it difficult to leave an abusive relationship or even identify that they are being abused, as it could have been occurring for many years and they view it as a normal element of the relationship. Older people also struggle to access information and services due to a lack of knowledge, limited access to the internet, social isolation and physical incapacity. Indicators that an older person is experiencing domestic violence include:

  • the sudden execution of a new will or enduring power of attorney in favour of an unusual person
  • transfer of full or part ownership in the family home to a spouse or family member
  • significant and unexplained withdrawals of money from bank accounts
  • dismissal of injuries or anxiety by a spouse or carer as age or dementia related
  • sudden change of medical practitioner
  • demonstrated anxiety around particular family members or carers
  • social isolation and/or withdrawal from participation in normal activities.

Legal advice, referral and social work support is available for older members of the community from organisations such as the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit or the Seniors Legal and Support Service run by Caxton Legal Centre Inc.