The last twelve months has seen significant investment and activity in organisations and in communities as Queensland has embraced Dame Quentin Bryce’s Not Now Not Ever milestone report on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk opening the South West Wellspring Hub, August 2016. Photographer: Craig Holmes.
The Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS) has been working hard in partnership with many organisations as part of the Brisbane Region Integrated Approach to Domestic and Family Violence. By working collectively we can increase the impact we have in supporting women and children and/or any family member impacted by violence in an intimate relationship or within the family.
It is our belief and commitment that we must change the narrative and advocate for equality in intimate relationships, in families, in the workplace and in the community. This is needed to stop the escalation of violence in relationships and families. We must do this while simultaneously addressing the risks, safety and needs of people who are currently impacted by violence so no one is left unsafe. Keeping women and children safe and holding men and any respondent (perpetrator) accountable for the use of violence are co-occurring actions which require collaboration across the criminal justice system, human services and communities.
As a 24/7 service our work in the last year has strengthened partnerships with Queensland Police allowing us to reach women and children earlier through outreach and co-responding. Being on-site sooner allows us to assist and support women and children in their homes to access the protections available via the Queensland Police and Criminal Justice System. Evidence shows that women are more likely to engage in ongoing support with a service when spoken to close to the time of the incident.
Our collaborative initiatives include a domestic violence specialist worker and a police officer going out to a household, usually at night, to provide direct assistance immediately. Also the development of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) Vulnerable Persons Unit within Queensland Police at Camp Hill. Here, organisations are meeting regularly to review and plan how to best manage the risk of women and children or the aggrieved, to enhance their safety and to respond to their needs. This requires working with men who are most often the respondents. Three Mandatory Men’s Offenders Programs run by BDVS and Probation and Parole, continued to operate across Brisbane this year.
Additionally human services such as DV Connect, Hospitals and BDVS through the Safer Lives Mobile Service are working more closely together and strengthening partnerships to provide a 24/7 response to both women and children (or the aggrieved) and men (or respondent). This is vital as despite Domestic and Family Violence being a problem in Brisbane 365 days a year, there are not enough refuge beds to support demand and for some women and children, refuge is not a solution.
Another significant initiative has been the formation of the Integrated Housing and Domestic and Family Violence Interagency group, which through regular meetings and reviews of individual women’s circumstances, has been able to swiftly rehouse women and their children. This initiative recently received the Department of Housing and Public Works Director-General’s Award which is granted to the most innovative/creative/good idea in recognition of the impact we are having in the lives of the people we support.
In addition to working in partnership in times of immediate crisis, our domestic violence specialist workers are present at the Holland Park and Richlands Courts for women and children, and at the Sandgate Court for respondents, who are most often men, helping people to navigate the system by providing information and support, and specialist advocacy.
Domestic violence specialist workers are available on the phone and through outreach 24/7. We receive many self-referrals daily, primarily from women who are seeking help to better understand domestic violence, to develop safety plans, and to rebuild their lives as they recover from the consequences and trauma that domestic violence has had on their lives and the lives of their children. The women and children, single women, family members, people from LGBTIQA communities, people from non-English speaking backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who contact BDVS come from many different circumstances, ages and stages of relationships. Two specialist children’s workers are also available to support children and young people along with their protective parent, most often their mother.
BDVS works from three Wellspring Locations across Brisbane and this year Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk opened the Wellspring Hub Southwest at Inala. Co-located with the South West Brisbane Community Legal Centre, the hub provides local and regional access to people seeking services in relation to domestic violence and child protection in a safe and trusted environment.
BDVS continues to be engaged in community education across Brisbane, cosponsoring the Candlelight Vigils during Domestic and Family Violence Awareness Month at South Bank and Inala Civic Centre.
Inaugural Parent Leadership Training Institute Graduates
In December 2016 we celebrated the graduation of the first group of talented and passionate individuals completing the 15-week Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) Program in what was a moving and inspiring ceremony.
The 2016 Parent Leadership Training Institute inaugural group at their Graduation Ceremony, December 2016. Photographer: Craig Holmes.
This graduating class were part of a pilot program to bring the innovative PLTI program to Brisbane. It was made possible through a partnership between the Family Inclusion Network (facilitated by Micah Projects) which is funded by the Queensland Government Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. The program was mentored by the Parent Leadership Training Institute Connecticut.
The PLTI program was developed in the United States after extensive research, evidence and consultations highlighted that while parents have the motivation and desire to make positive changes to their lives and their children’s lives, they often lack the advocacy skills and opportunity for leadership to do so.
The program is designed to enable parents to become leading advocates for themselves and their children, and to become effective change agents for the next generation.
This vision is similar to that of parents here in Queensland who have been engaged in Family Inclusion Networks over the last 10 years. These parents are seeking the skills and opportunity to share their real world, lived experiences with elected officials, policy makers and organisations. Parents are often the missing voice in the child protection system and across government agencies which are responsible for services that can enable real change and opportunity in the lives of parents and their families. Structural issues such as cost of living, unemployment, poverty, lack of affordable housing are as much issues for families as are their personal challenges which impact on family functioning, safety and stability.
The curriculum includes leadership and public speaking skills, understanding democracy, advocacy and lessons regarding the processes of government and community engagement. It also supports and encourages individual parent leaders to work on projects that are as diverse as the parents themselves. These projects can be based within their own family, or broader projects requiring cooperation at local, state or federal levels of government. This year’s projects ranged from growing fruit trees in Council parks, changing the experiences of people impacted by domestic violence, and creating a resource kit designed by parents of gender diverse and transgender children.
Our first graduating participants are already having a positive impact utilising their new skill set and being engaged in the community. One impact to date includes a parent securing increased funding for an innovative housing and support solution for her son living with a disability. This success is attributed to the courage and determination of a parent to ensure her son could live independently, and the difference learning new skills can create.
An evaluation of the pilot program was undertaken pro bono by Professor Karen Healy, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Queensland, with findings presented in an Evaluation Report.
When asked how their participation in the program impacted on change the Parent Leaders offered comments such as:
“I feel so much more aware, confident and empowered. I had no idea before. Now that if I am passionate enough about something, rather than just whinge, I have the tools to do something about it. Little old me!”
“I learnt so much! I got more confident in public speaking and feeling confident about standing up for others”.
In a time when many people are commenting on our democracy, programs like PLTI can add value and inspire greater participation in our democratic process by parents as citizens.
To learn more about the program visit www.finseq.org.au/resources to watch our Parents as Leaders video or read the Evaluation Report.
In March 2017, we reached our collective goal alongside our partner agencies with more than 500 individuals and families now housed, and their homelessness ended. We thank our partnering agencies, volunteers and donors for supporting the campaign to measure our progress and reach our goal.
The three-year campaign included 34 government and non-government partners working collaboratively in an unprecedented effort to end homelessness in Brisbane one person, one family, at a time. Without the ongoing generosity of the Brisbane community this could not have been achieved and was essential to our success. Whether it came as direct donations to Micah Projects, furniture donations through Givit, or as one of the many local fundraising activities in workplaces, schools, neighbourhoods and businesses, this support had a profound impact on the lives of individuals and families in Brisbane. It enabled people to move into a unit or house, and to have it filled with the essential day-to-day items they needed to start their lives anew and to make it a home.
The campaign began in 2014 with a community-wide registry fortnight where local agencies, staff and volunteers went into the community, surveying 961 families, young people and adults who were experiencing homelessness on the streets, in emergency accommodation, couch surfing, in cars or in boarding houses. Over the three years, 2014 – 2017, an additional 1,733 people have been registered as part of the ongoing work of the campaign.
While some regarded the ten-fold goal increase from our initial 50 Lives 50 Homes Campaign in 2010 to 500 Lives 500 Homes as ambitious, by the campaign end date we saw this goal not only be achieved, but exceeded. A total of 580 individuals and families were permanently housed during the life of the campaign. This contributed to a 24% reduction in family homelessness and a 32% reduction in people sleeping rough in Brisbane.
The Housing First principles utilised by the campaign played a critical role in its success, which helped end homelessness and change the daily lives of 373 individuals and 207 families with 430 children living in Brisbane. Over 80% of the families housed were mothers with children. While this was a significant achievement we still have work to do so that no one is sleeping on our streets in Brisbane, and when people do experience homelessness, it is for the shortest period of time possible.
‘Housing First Brisbane’, which will continue the work established in the 500 Lives 500 Homes campaign, has embraced a roadmap to end homelessness in Brisbane through a Housing First Approach. This roadmap will guide our collaborative efforts, working locally to achieve our vision to end homelessness.
Our work continues at the individual, family, community and in the future at a national level. We aim to participate in the National Campaign ‘Advance to Zero’ to end homelessness nationally starting with street homelessness.
Since 2006 Micah Projects has recognised the need for integrating healthcare into our work as a critical factor in successfully moving individuals and families from homelessness to housing. Our data demonstrates that health inequality is growing in Australia as health systems change. Access to appropriate, quality healthcare is essential to enhancing a person’s well-being and stability, and their ability to maintain a safe and secure tenancy.
“From the weekend, health vans are hitting the roads of Brisbane, operating for 120 hours per week, to deliver timely and vital health services to those who are homeless or sleeping rough,” Lord Mayor Graham Quirk. Launch of the Mobile Healthcare Vans. Above, from the front: Bronwyn, Ros and Jenna.
In 2017 the Pathways Pilot Program reached its three-year milestone. The program engaged with vulnerable people presenting at hospital who were homeless or vulnerably housed. The aim was to identify people with both homelessness (or housing issues) and health issues, prior to or on discharge from hospital, for referral to Micah Projects. Inclusive Health Nurses employed by St Vincent’s Private Hospital, would assess their health, housing and social support needs so as to resolve their risk of homelessness.
St Vincent’s Private Hospital were the Lead agency in the pilot program, with nurses collocated within the Home for Good Homelessness programs at Micah Projects.
The project demonstrated that integrated nursing care, housing and support programs, deliver improved outcomes for the individuals and significant economic benefits to the government and community. When resource-intensity of inpatient use is modelled, the estimates suggest that the Pathways Program may return as much as $7.25 per $1 spent.
Brisbane City Council Mobile Healthcare for Homelessness
Micah Projects was also successful in tendering for funding from Brisbane City Council to enhance our healthcare response for vulnerable people in Brisbane. The funding provided for three mobile healthcare vans and additional staff to expand our healthcare response. As well, it including start-up finance for the Inclusive Health Clinic GP practice which will provide clinical governance for outreach service with our Partners. Specifically this funding will allow us to amplify the impact of our existing Street to Home after hours nursing services, and provide a coordinated daytime multidisciplinary response with nurses and community workers supporting people where they live, be it on the streets, boarding houses or in their recently secured housing so as to prevent homelessness from reoccurring.
Integrated Healthcare and Supportive Housing
Dr Cameron Parsell from the Institute for Social Science Research, the University of Queensland, conducted an evaluation of the integration of nursing care within the supportive housing team at Brisbane Common Ground. The conclusions verified that integrated healthcare and supportive housing enabled tenants supported by Micah Projects at Brisbane Common Ground to take control and self-manage their healthcare. The evaluation found that as a result the formerly homeless individuals were in a position to improve their self-reported health outcomes, make healthier lifestyle choices and access pathways into more appropriate and effective healthcare.
We continue to value the funding and partnership with Mater Healthcare and St Vincent’s Private Hospital who fund the nursing positions at Brisbane Common Ground 7 days a week.
Partnership helps to address health inequity in Brisbane
Each year we continue to collaborate with partners in our shared quest to increase health equality in Brisbane. A stand-out moment took place in February this year, with the opening of the Inclusive Health Clinic.
Dignitaries cutting the ribbon at the official opening of the Inclusive Health Clinic, February 2017. Photographer: Craig Holmes.
Located in the central suburb of South Brisbane, and immediately adjacent to Brisbane Common Ground, the purpose of the clinic is to ensure vulnerable people can access affordable, trauma informed healthcare services. The clinic provides dental, GP and allied health services in an integrated manner, in collaboration with health, social and community service providers.
The establishment and initial opening of the clinic has only been made possible through several innovative partnerships that have been nurtured and developed over many years under the Inclusive Health partnership umbrella.
The Clinic is operated by a new not-for-profit company - Inclusive Health Partnerships Ltd, a joint venture between Micah Projects and The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Australia, an organisation dedicated to charity, medical service, education and the promotion of humanistic values. (Visit inclusivehealthclinic.org.au for more information.)
The provision of our integrated nursing care is made possible through funding from the PHN South and PHN North. This funding is also delivered with the support of our partnerships with Mater Misericordiae Ltd, St Vincent’s Health Australia and Queensland Health.
As many people today live with the consequences of trauma, the Inclusive Health Clinic aims to make available programs and treatment to engage body, mind, brain and spirit. The first groups of Trauma Informed Yoga and community acupuncture have been well received.
We look forward to continuing to expand operations and embrace innovation in the pursuit of health equity with the help of our partners and supporters.
Over the past four and half years the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has drawn national attention to the extent and prevalence of childhood sexual abuse within institutional settings in communities across Australia. The most significant outcome is the vindication of adult survivors who have been calling for the exposure of the truth, and acknowledgment that abuse did occur. Their experiences in seeking justice have been validated and institutions have been held accountable.
Institutions which were given the trust of the community to protect, care and nurture children breached and defiled that trust and left in its stead, a legacy of pain, mistrust and injustice lasting a lifetime for adult survivors.
The Historical Abuse Network through Lotus Place, our resource centre for people who experienced abuse in institutional settings and out-of-home care, has for many years advocated for change. We have supported its members as they engaged with the Royal Commission through personal testimonies and private sessions individually, attended public hearings as witnesses and observers, and prepared submissions to consultations. Adult Survivors want to be assured that the recommendations of the Royal Commission will not be gathering dust on bookshelves but will be taken seriously by the Australian and Queensland Government.
The Historical Abuse Network has provided the Australian Government with the Framework for Justice, and has called upon the Queensland Government to address the ‘Unfinished Business’ arising from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Queensland Government in 1999 was a national leader in bringing to light the historical abuse of children in church and state government institutions, but the work is not finished.
Adult Survivors and the Historical Abuse Network have been calling for a Queensland Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce to create partnerships and work on the recommendations from the Royal Commission and beyond. As well they call for adult survivors of all forms of abuse to be recognised in the education of the community, to have access to mainstream services, financial payments and specialist services across Queensland and that the safety of children today is ensured.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk committed to establishing a Queensland Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce at the Child Protection Remembrance Day 2017.
It is through the strength, courage and fortitude of these fellow citizens that the truth is being revealed, and we as a country are driven to make changes at individual, family, organisation, community and government levels.
Micah Projects acknowledges the legal and policy teams, the counselling staff and all involved in the work of the Royal Commission. The ethics to ensure a trauma sensitive approach to the needs of survivors enabled the safety of many to participate.
We would like to personally thank all the Commissioners: Chair of the Royal Commission The Hon. Justice Peter McClellan AM, Justice Jennifer Coate, Commissioner Bob Atkinson AO APM, Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald AM, Commissioner Helen Milroy and Commissioner Andrew Murray.
The launch of the Hope Street Café was a major highlight of the 2016/17 year as five years of planning and fundraising saw the vision become a reality. The vision has been to reduce isolation and build community through greater social and economic participation. After planning, research and community input, our vision is now grounded in establishing a social enterprise café.
Hope Street Café patrons. Artworks: ‘Tangled in Blue’ exhibition of paintings by local artist John Doherty. Photographer: Craig Holmes.
The initial planning met with some obstacles which were mitigated by creating the business systems for the café in a separate location. We leased a café which became available on Boundary Street, West End while capital works occurred at 15 Hope Street, South Brisbane.
Expectedly but not surprising we have learnt from our participants that to achieve our vision, both locations are required. 15 Hope Street is a commercial café offering on-the-job training and employment and ‘Hope on Boundary’ is an industry-based training hub. Our participants are keen to learn and we need to offer basic literacy and numeracy skills development before people are ready to undertake a TAFE course. The two sites will work together in achieving our goal.
The social enterprise would not have been possible without the significant and ongoing support of a number of partners, who embraced and shared our vision. We especially thank Conrad Gargett for their generosity in providing pro bono work for the design of the café, followed by their skilled project management of the building component of the project. The beautiful results of their work, as the photo shows, demonstrate their understanding, support and commitment to the project.
As well we thank Inkahoots for creating pro bono the engaging visual identity for the Hope Street Social Enterprise.
We have high hopes for what the cafés can achieve. We plan to provide long term unemployed and local community members with opportunities for learning, training and skill development, work experience, employment, community connections and meaningful activity.
The last financial year saw the completion of all the capital works for the Hope Street Café. The two sites combined will create pathways and a diversity of activity to support our overall goals of a sustainable, mission-driven social enterprise. We will bring people with resources, skills and connections together with people who are wanting to learn. We thank our new team, partners, volunteers, sponsors and donors in assisting us to achieve our milestones.
We acknowledge the Australian Government Department of Social Services for the funding they provided for 2.5 years for the development of the social enterprise and Ian Potter Foundation who are contributing for the next three years in the operational component of the café alongside our learning partner TAFE Queensland Brisbane. The capital works have been made possible by many small donations and local fundraising efforts.
Since its inception, Micah Projects has understood that to maximise the positive impact we can have in the lives of the individuals and families we support, we need strong partnerships and to be supported within a community of citizens who share our vision for a more just and inclusive society.
These partnerships have come in a variety of forms, each one of them unique and valued. Some of these partnerships are collaborations with fellow service providers to integrate service delivery for people experiencing disadvantage. Some are partnerships with other community organisations where we have a common purpose, such as to reduce health inequality, end homelessness or support young pregnant and parenting women, their children and families. Some of our partnerships are with government departments and programs, where we share the same vision to support fellow citizens in time of adversity. At all times, in all that we do, we strive to be in partnership with those who access our services.
Hope Street Café at 15 Hope Street, South Brisbane. From left: Finn, Chris and Hannah. Photographer: Craig Holmes.
Over the past two and a half years the Australian Government Department of Social Services has funded Brisbane Partnerships which is a collaboration between four community-based, multi-service providers: Community Living Association, Jabiru, Kyabra and Micah Projects. We are committed to a community development approach, early intervention and family support within a social justice framework.
In our work together we have partnered with Family Inclusion Network in creating tools and opportunities for parents to engage with us on programs and policies that affect their lives. We have also developed closer relationships and information sharing for joint tenders, governance and National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) transition. Micah Projects has really enjoyed the opportunity this partnership has fostered.
Philanthropic Organisations, Foundations and Donors
We are fortunate to have developed several partnerships with philanthropic organisations or foundations, whose financial support and trust, have allowed us to provide more services, develop innovative pilot programs and translate best-practice research into real world initiatives.
With many community groups and individual donations we can continue to make a difference directly to people in financial and personal hardship and create new opportunities.
While some donations have created new initiatives like the Hope Street Café and the Inclusive Health Clinic, the ongoing support for our Homelessness and Housing Fund and general donations, contribute to providing emergency accommodation and establishing housing every year for hundreds of people when combined with government grants. Above all it enables us to keep our commitment that no child remains sleeping in a car or on the street when they seek our services.
While we enjoy support from partners every year, including those we have featured on our Thank You page, this year saw the highest level of funding to support new programs and extend existing ones.
$15,750 from the English Family Foundation to establish
our first social enterprise endeavour via the Start Some Good Campaign for the Hope Street Café
$100,000 from the Flannery Foundation towards establishment costs for both the Inclusive Health Clinic and the Hope Street Café
$50,000 from The John Barnes Foundation to support Young Mothers for Young Women’s early intervention program for young mothers and their children, and
A new partnership between CUA (Credit Union Australia) and our Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS) to assist women with financial challenges due to domestic violence through CUA Banking. This partnership is in addition to a contribution of $50,000 to assist us in funding a part-time financial counsellor for women.
We also extend our heartfelt thanks to the continued community support we receive as individuals and organisations raise funds in local communities, workplaces, schools and neighbourhoods to provide funding and supplies that allow us to provide emergency support when women are escaping domestic violence. Thanks to this funding we distributed phones and essential items to women in motels.
It is through partnerships such as these that enable us to respond to the challenges our fellow citizens face every day. Using the world’s best research and our frontline experience to develop and deliver innovative, best-practice programs, we maximise our impact for the vulnerable people of Brisbane.
We are deeply appreciative to all our partners and donors for their support.