At the best of times, life doesn’t operate on a nine to five basis – in fact, many of life’s big moments happen at the most inopportune times. This is especially true for families escaping family violence. Perpetrators don’t hurt their victims during office hours; women and children don’t require safety according to a schedule – when a family is in crisis due to family violence they need help right now, no matter what time it is.
That’s why Refuge Victoria’s decision to transform its third refuge into one where a staff member is onsite 24 hours every day is so important – for the organisation’s offerings and for the families we support.
Our refuges have always been supported 24 hours a day. The difference is that soon all three refuges will have a support worker onsite around the clock, caring for families when they need it and addressing issues when they arise.
Importantly, going 24/7 across all our refuges means we will achieve consistency across our services – consistency in quality of care.
It will help the new mum who is trying, on her own, to settle and feed her newborn; reassure our clients who have nightmares due to PTSD to know that someone is only a few seconds away; and help to reduce fear for clients and their children and helps them feel safer in a new environment.
Every mother of young children knows that the time between after school and dinner and bedtime – sometimes known as the ‘witching hour’ – is tough. Having someone onsite to be that extra pair of hands can make all the difference!
Becoming a 24-hour refuge is also an important security measure. Having a trained professional with the knowledge and experience to deal with potential threats and breaches adds another layer of protection to the families in refuge, in addition to the CCTV cameras and other security provisions in place.
The move to transforming the third and final refuge to a 24-hour facility requires a significant investment in resources, infrastructure and human resources.
The refuge itself needed to undergo renovations to create a ‘sleepover’ room for staff as well as kitchen and bathroom facilities. The renovations were purpose-built to allow staff privacy, while at the same time being in close proximity when needed.
Significant changes in staffing are also required to maintain the new hours.
For the families in refuge, what the move to 24-hour service provides is peace of mind. Just knowing that the refuge office is staffed 24-hours gives our clients comfort and security as they work to rebuild a safer future for themselves and their children.