The Australian Government has developed a family safety pack with information on Australia’s laws regarding domestic and family violence, sexual assault and forced marriage.
The pack aims to reduce violence against women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, by ensuring they understand their rights and where to get support if needed. It also aims to strengthen support for women coming to Australia on a Partner Visa, by providing information on the family violence visa provisions and available support. Please follow this link to the webpage so that you can download the safety packs in many different languages.
Women leave a violent relationship to become safe however; it is important to remember that this safety may not occur immediately. Separation can be the time of greatest danger.
Think of ideas that will help keep you safe and put them into action. Here are some things you can do now to make it safer for you and your children.
Safety during an abusive incident
- Be aware of all exit routes and safety areas for you and your children.
- Seek support from neighbours to call the police if they hear a disturbance.
- Develop a safety plan for your children; e.g. how to call 000, how to safely exit the house an how to get help.
- Phone police as soon as you can.
- Keep a diary of violent incidents; including dates.
Safety at Work
- Inform someone at your workplace about your current situation.
- Avoid taking the same route twice.
- Develop a safety plan for arriving and leaving work.
SAFETY WHEN PREPARING TO LEAVE
It is important to have a clear safety plan for you and your children before you leave.
- Contact the Domestic Violence Hotline 1800 65 64 63 and arrange safe accommodation for you and your children
- Contact RSPCA to arrange safe accommodation for your pets
- Seek support from a domestic violence worker and consider getting an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO). Speak directly to the Domestic Violence Liaison Officer at your local Police station to lodge your ADVO
- Arrange your transportation in advance
- Practice travelling to your intended safe area
- Prepare and safely store a leaving package with money, documents, clothes, spare keys
- Seek legal advice
- Program emergency support service contacts into your phone
- Ask your doctor to document any injuries
- Only tell trusted people of your intended new location
What to take when you leave
The safety of you and your children is paramount. Take the items below only if it is safe to do so. It is important to remember you may be able to return with Police support at a later time to collect your possessions.
- Driver's licence, bank details, credit cards, birth/marriage/divorce certicate/s for you and your children
- Centrelink, immigration documents
- Car and house keys
- Passports for you and your children
- Car registration papers
- Medical records, medications and Medicare details
- Taxation and employment documents
- Court papers including protection and family law papers Rental, mortgage, legal papers, copy of ADVO
- Personal address book
- Your children's favourite toys and other items of comfort
- Personal items which have value or you fear may be destroyed such as jewellery and photographs
A safety plan is about taking proactive steps to improve you and your children's safety and need to include safety strategies for home, work, school and community.
PLANNING FOR MY SAFETY
Leaving an abusive relationship does not always result in immediate safety. Here are some tips you and your children can use to maintain safety after separation.
- Seek legal advice; be informed of your rights
- Program emergency services/contacts into your phone
- Inform your children's school/day care of collection arrangements for your children
- Keep your ADVO with you at all times. Store a copy with someone you trust. If your circumstances change, apply to the local court for a variation
- Request police support if you need to return to house to retrieve your possessions
- Consider changing your bank, postal address and phone number
- Consider using a silent number and using caller ID
- Consider asking the Australian Electoral Commission to exclude your name and contact details on the electoral role
- Avoid using your usual shopping centre - change your routines
- Increase home security (changing locks, security chains, sensor lights)
- Seek support from neighbours to call the police if they hear a disturbance
- If your partner breaches an ADVO inform the police immediately
- Seek support from a domestic violence support worker/counsellor
- Contact Centrelink to ensure any joint correspondence to you and your partner is changed immediately
- Install a security light
- Be alert to any suspicious people - don't ignore any "funny feelings"
- Keep electric fuse boxes locked, make a safe evacuation plan.
- Make sure all household members know and understand the evacuation plan.
- Identify a "safe room" in your house with a lockable door.
HOW I WILL TEACH MY CHILDREN TO MANAGE THEIR SAFETY?
- Teach your children how to telephone the police and how to give their full name and address.
- Tell your children's school or child care centre about the situation and about who has authority to pick up the children. Provide the school or centre with copies of any family law orders or ADVO's
PHONES AND MOBILE PHONES
- Get an unlisted number. Make sure everyone you give it to knows it's a silent number
- Consider the purchase of a telephone that has caller ID
- Consider the purchase of a separate pre-paid mobile for your children to use for access phone calls where Family Law matters are in place
- Report all phone abuse. Keep accurate records and original messages for police and court. Do not delete text or voice messages from your phone
- Program emergency contacts in your phone
- Use a computer with a password
- Clear your Internet history
- Be careful when communicating online
- Create an alternative email account
- Protect or change your passwords
- Increase privacy settings on social network sites such as Facebook
- Keep your car locked at all times
- Park in well lit areas when shopping or at work
- Consider purchasing a personal alarm for your key ring
Your work, shopping or social events
- Make sure everyone in the workplace is aware not to give out your personal details
- Inform your manager or supervisor of your safety concerns
- Park in a well lit space
- Have an action plan if you are followed home
- Plan what you will do if you are followed while using public transport
For more information regarding Centrelink, debts and checklists follow the links under the Resources heading under the Getting Help tab.