The best way to understand how WDVCAS supports women and their children experiencing domestic violence is through case studies:
Ms X attended Court as a victim of ongoing domestic violence. Police had issued an ADVO and also charged the offender. Ms X had a small child and had left the family home due to her fears for the safety of herself and her child. Leaving her belongings behind, she fled with only a few basic essentials.
Ms X discussed a range of issues with a WDVCAS worker prior to attending Court. The issues included:
Ms X attended Court in a distressed and fearful state, bringing a list of property she believed was rightfully hers to claim. A WDVCAS worker explained that the Duty Solicitor would be able to negotiate with the defendant’s solicitor on what property her former partner would agree to her having. There was an issue around ownership of some furniture items but Ms X could produce receipts if required.
Discussion was also held at Court around the defendant having access to their child, Ms X having confirmed that she had no Family Law Orders or Parenting Plan. WDVCAS advised Ms X that they would ask the Duty Solicitor to discuss these issues with the defendant’s solicitor.
The WDVCAS worker also telephoned the local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service from the Court to clarify Ms X’s tenancy situation. This they did, advising a very relieved Ms X of her rights as a tenant under DV provisions.
The Police Domestic Violence Liaison Officer (DVLO) at Court agreed to add a Condition 4 to the ADVO, once consent had been sought from the defendant. The DVLO also confirmed that they would present Ms X’s Property Recovery Order in Court, through the Police Prosecutor.
After some lengthy negotiations, consent was obtained to the Property Recovery Order. There were also negotiations around contact between the little boy and the father. A Parenting Plan was drafted by the Duty Solicitor, negotiated with the defendant’s Solicitor, and ultimately consented to by the defendant.
At first mention for the matter against the defendant he pleaded guilty to the offences and also consented to the ADVO (including Condition 4). The defendant’s solicitor also confirmed to the Magistrate that the defendant was moving out of the property by the next day – allowing Ms X and her son to return to their home. The Property Recovery Order was agreed to and the Parenting Plan was also presented to the Magistrate.
Ms X left the Court house with the following:
Ms X was overwhelmed with her outcomes and much more confident of her future, knowing ongoing support was there for her if she needed it.
Ms Z was referred to our WDVCAS by the local police station following an incident involving verbal abuse from her partner and malicious damage to her car.
Although Ms Z’s relationship with her violent partner (V) was only 12 months old, a pattern of violent abuse and intimidation had already been established, aggravated by his use of the drug Ice.
Ms Z recounted an incident whereby V had driven her around in his car for 4 hours, telling her he was taking her to the forest, where he intended killing her. Ms Z had not reported this event, nor others like it because she feared for her life if V found out she’d gone to the authorities.
Five months into the relationship Ms Z made a decision to end the relationship but was so fearful of V’s reaction that she tried to separate by gradually distancing herself from him. Ms Z has 3 children by a former relationship, aged 6, 7 and 10. The children all resided with Ms Z in rented accommodation.
The incident involving the verbal abuse and damage to Ms Z’s car had occurred when she refused to get out of her car when V demanded she do so. V tried to drag her from the vehicle and then proceeded to smash the car. Ms Z drove off and was pursued by V. Ms Z saw a police speed camera operation by the roadside and pulled in, begging for help.
The police took Ms Z to their station to make a statement and an application for a provisional ADVO was completed. The ADVO included a very strict set of conditions, which prohibited V from making any contact with Ms Z, stalking her, damaging or interfering with her property or going within 100 metres of her home. Bail was granted but with conditions.
The next day the Police advised us that V had been charged with breaching the ADVO and resisting Police. This time bail had been refused.
At the Court, Ms Z advised our caseworker that she was extremely fearful for her safety and that of her children. She wanted to move house, given V knew where she lived and obviously had no qualms about breaching ADVOs.
We made a referral to Housing NSW’s Start Safely program to see if Ms Z would be eligible for the program’s subsidised private rent for domestic violence victims. Ms Z met with Housing NSW triage the following day.
Given Ms Z’s emotional vulnerability, we also spoke to her about referring her to Victims Services for counselling support, which she was anxious to access.
A sentencing hearing was adjourned and to Ms Z’s horror, conditional bail was granted, one of the conditions being that V reside at an address which was in the same area as Ms Z.
Ms Z continued living in fear of V coming after her, locking herself and the children in to their accommodation as soon as she brought them home from school each day.
In the meantime we continued to email Housing regarding Ms Z’s Start Safely application and were relieved when it was approved one month after the application had been submitted.
The case came back to court for sentencing and V was fined, given a 2 year good behaviour bond, a 2 year ADVO with strict conditions, an Intensive Correction Order and placed on case tracking.
Ms Z continued looking for alternative private accommodation and eventually found a place out of area, where the real estate agent approved her application and agreed to the conditions of the Start Safely program.
Ms Z contacted us to advise she had secured accommodation for herself and her children and was very appreciative of all the support she had received through our WDVCAS.