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Mensline Feedback

 

Court Support

 

Mensline Feedback – Court Support – 1

A court support worker in the Brisbane court, recently received feedback from Legal Aid in appreciation of his added efforts to engage with clients, over and above what they expected. The feedback was regarding the pro-active nature of the workers and their ability to engage with clients at court. Typically, at court the client can dictate whether they choose to see a court support worker and on a typical day, about 7 clients will agree to see the worker. At Brisbane court however, the worker, after seeing the clients that have agreed to access court support, would then proactively approach the other clients, sit with them and talk to them about his role and encourage them to seek support. This pro-active approach has increased, almost two fold, the number of clients that would agree to engage with the court support worker and then link in with other support services post court.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Court Support – 2

At a local Queensland Magistrates Court in Brisbane the DVConnect Mensline court support worker was able to liaise and work with Domestic Violence Action Centre (DVAC) regarding a high risk client that there were significant concerns regarding. DVAC were able to speak with the court support worker prior to them meeting the client and informed them of his high risk status and concerns
around lethality. This information was not noted in the DVO application that had been provided to by the client, however was contextual information that came through the sharing of information between
agencies working with both respondents and aggrieved. The court support worker was able to tailor questions around this additional information and provide this back to DVAC to inform their risk assessment. The client, after being seen by the court support worker, also left that meeting stating that he felt like he had been heard by the DVConnect staff member and had a clearer understanding of what to expect from the day as he was sitting with a lot of anxiety around the upcoming proceedings.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Court Support 03

A distressed and agitated man presented at court as the respondent and had very limited English. The Mensline worker gestured to him to speak with him in an office where it was established that he was a recent Iranian refugee and could only speak Farsi. He could not understand the written domestic violence application and was frightened about Police, the magistrate, the lawyers and what would happen to him, his family and deportation. It was suspected that his fear was triggered from experiences in Iran. The Mensline worker, being both a social worker and lawyer, contacted the Telephone Interpreter Service who immediately patched through a Farsi interpreter to the Mensline’s mobile phone where the application was explained, the court process and the role of the officers to make sure violence is stopped. The availability of services for his relationships to stop violence were accepted by the respondent and details provided. The duty lawyer was also invited to speak with the client given the interpreter who confirmed the process, and represented his client in court where the acceptance of services to stop violence was made part of the proceedings. Post court, the client was very grateful for all concerned involved including Police and the Court for the opportunity to remedy his behaviour and to build up family supports to rectify the problems.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Court Support – 04

Many times every day and night DVConnect Mensline receives calls throughout Queensland from men referred by Police or other stakeholders for clarification and assistance when they are charged or an application taken in relation to domestic and family violence. This is typically shortly followed by an electronic referral to DVConnect Mensline from Police to make contact with the individual to provide support and assistance whether they are the perpetrator or the victim. Invariably because of the crisis context the man is confused about the court process and options which are then further explained and clarified by DVConnect Mensline workers. Importantly, the impact on any victim including any children by the violence is emphasised. In a recent example it was explained to the caller how serious the situation was and how an opportunity is being afforded to him to get help. He accepted the offer of enrolling in a men’s behaviour change program and the next day when he went to Court his attendance at the program was made part of the domestic violence order. He was grateful for the telephone assistance and advice he received he night before and also again from the Mensline worker present at court.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Court Support – 05

A young man went to court as the respondent obviously angry and mistrustful. The DVConnect court support worker offered only brief speaking, which may help and which was accepted. The Court process and options were clarified. With assistance the young man reflected on the pain he had caused his partner and child and he was suddenly remorseful. The offer of assistance to the family for support and behavioural change was made. He appreciated how much more serious it could have been and so he had a chance to make amends and improve himself realising his partner would respect his efforts. He immediately rang the service provider and was placed on the waiting list in the near future for counselling. He also accepted to speak with the duty lawyer. The Mensline worker reported in Court to the Magistrate the client’s decision and a Voluntary Intervention Order was made. The young man was grateful for the chance to stay with his partner and child and try to be the best man he could be. The magistrate thanked all involved to achieve this positive outcome by consent.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Court Support 06

Frank* had initially declined an invitation to talk with DVConnect’s Mensline, stating that he had his own legal representation. Later in the day however, the magistrate asked the Mensline worker to attend court when Frank’s matter was before the court. The magistrate was explaining that she wanted Frank to attend a perpetrator program, but Frank’s lawyer was arguing against this, describing the programs as “ineffective” in his view, because “they’re just men getting together to confess what they’ve done to try to get some catharsis” which “doesn’t work”. 

The matter had previously been adjourned twice that day and had taken up a number of hours of the courts time. The magistrate stated that she was adjourning the matter again and asked the Mensline court support worker if he would meet with Frank and talk about the behavioural change programs. Rapport building with Frank led to a discussion about the volunteer work that he does at a local boxing gym with young people. This led to an exploration of Frank’s motivation for this work which led him to talk about the central values in his life, values which revolved around the importance of helping young people to have a place where they belong, feel valued, respected and cared for. He talked about how important this work is in his life and how it gives his life purpose and meaning, stating that one of his big fears if he consented to the order would be that it would prevent him from being able to do this work (he was reassured that it would not). Through this exploration, a conversation opened up about how Frank would like to be able to support young men even more, along with an acknowledgement by him of his own limitations. He acknowledged that these limitations which were due to the fact that he only ever saw violence and poor communication growing up and he never saw any other, better ways of doing things. A discussion about communication and the breath of things covered by the term “DV” also led Frank to acknowledge that he has been verbally abusive in his relationship and that he does have issues with anger. Frank stated that he could see that just boys needing a boxing coach to show them new skills if they were to improve, he could use a “coach” to learn new skills in life if he was to have a better relationship and be a better mentor to the boys at the gym.

As a consequence of this discussion, Frank agreed to register for a men’s perpetrator program, stating that he could see how this would benefit both his relationship and the boys that he mentored and supported. The Mensline worked then assisted Frank to do this in the room on the phone. Frank also stated that he had decided that he would consent without admission to the police application for a Domestic Violence Order.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensine Feedback – Court Support – 07

Mike* was at court because of a private application for a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) taken out by his partner. Mike was a very large man who identified as Maori. Initially Mike stated that he was seeing DVConnect’s Mensline in order to see the duty lawyer and that he really just wanted to get some legal advice. During the conversation that followed, Mike disclosed that “family is everything to him”, frequently talking about his three young children and he disclosed that he grew up with a very violent father. The Mensline court support worker explored at length what this was like for Mike. This discussion of Mike’s experience growing up with domestic violence (DV) in his home, including the impact that this had upon him both then and now, led to a discussion about Mike’s own violence and his motivation for change. He stated that thinking about his own experience of family violence and the impact that it has had upon him enabled him to better understand what it must be like for his kids, and how they will be affected in the future if he doesn’t take responsibility for his behaviour and change. He reported that this had a very significant impact upon him. Mike stated that he didn’t want his children growing up to be violent or to think that it was OK to be treated that way. He also added that he didn’t want them growing up feeling “worthless” and “pushing people away” as he had done. Initially he vehemently denied that his children were frightened of him, but after reflecting upon what it was like to experience his father’s violence as a child and to “walk on egg shells never knowing when it would explode”, he stated that he had a very emotional realisation that they must be “terrified of him”. He was able to expand on this realisation himself with the acknowledgement that he is a very big man and they are very small children, and that his loud voice and facial expressions when he is angry must be terrifying for them. The Mensline court support worker continued to explore and expand upon Mike’s motivation for change, exploring things like:

  1. the impact of DV on this children;
  2. the importance of his family and children to him;
  3. the kind of man and father he wants to be;
  4. the future that he wants for his children and the people he hopes they will grow to be;
  5. his love for his partner and how he wants her to feel (respected, loved, safe etc.);
  6. the kind of relationship that he wants to have with his children and his partner;
  7. the importance he places on integrity and behaving consistently with his values.

Mike stated that he found the discussion very helpful and that he had decided to consent without admission to the application for a DVO. He also stated that he wanted to register a men’s perpetrator program when this was discussed with him. The Mensline worker assisted Mike with this registration over the phone.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Court Support – 08

A DVConnect Mensline court support worker spoke with a 28 year old man at Court. He had 3 children under 5. He was distressed and angry and said that his wife and children had left him a few days earlier. He said that she is probably suffering from post-natal depression or some other mental illness. At first he was in deniable that there was any domestic violence but after I explained what domestic violence he did acknowledge that he had been controlling and was aware that her partner was afraid of him. He also acknowledged how how his behaviour could impact the children. He accepted that he should attend a behaviour change program and was invited to contact Mensline for further support.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Court Support – 09

George* did not consider that breaking down the bedroom door to get to his wife was domestic and family violence or that it was abusive for this to happen in front of the children. The DVConnect MEnsline court support worker explained the definition of domestic and family violence in Australia, our court process and his options in court. The man was reluctant to take responsibility for his abuse, he thought that having a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) against him meant that he and partner automatically could not live together. Once it was explained to him that this was not necessarily the case, as long as his partner agreed, he began to cry and said that he was sorry for what he had done and consented immediately to the order. The effects of his behaviour might have on his children was also discussed and the man also agreed to consider a Behavioural Change Program as well as to accept a follow up call from our worker to see how he was going in the future.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Court Support – 10

Peter* was seen by one of the DVConnect Mensline court workers prior to his court appearance. He was very uneasy and maintained he had been doing everything the temporary order stated such as staying with friends and not going near his wife and children. The man had previously been to prison and expressed his fear of being arrested again. After it was explained to him that as long as he agreed to abide by the various conditions of the order, such as not trying to contact his wife or children and surrendering his weapons, and all other conditions – it would remain a civil matter, and he would not be breached in criminal court. Initially the respondent had denied the violence described on the application, our worker raised the issue of the respondent’s three children being named persons on the Domestic Violence Order (DVO) application, and further discussion took place around the impact of his behaviour on them. The court assistance worker provided contact details for local support services to help the man address his need to change his behaviour. Further assistance was given to understand the decisions he would have to make in court today and how his choices could make all the difference in the lives of his wife and children in the future. The man eventually thanked our worker and stated he felt a lot calmer for having had the time to express his fears, worries and concerns, before entering the court room.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

 

Mensline Feedback Person Using Violence

 

Mensline Feedback – Person Using Violence – 01

Forty year old James* contacted DVConnect Mensline from a remote area in Central Queensland. James identified that the Police had provided the Mensline phone number and that he had been ousted from the house after he had used violence against his wife (the most recent incident witnessed by his children). As he called at 4.30pm the nearest Centrelink Office and other services were closed and James identified that he had nowhere to stay that evening. He expressed outrage at being ousted from the house, although stated that his name was not on the lease. The Mensline counsellor worked with James around the immediate presenting issue, that he had nowhere to stay. James was articulating his desire to return to the house he was ousted from and his anger at this not being an option because of his choice to use violence. The Mensline counsellor spoke with him about:

  • The possible legal consequences of returning to the house he was ousted from, using this as an opportunity to reflect back to the individual that violence was always a choice that he made.
  • How he saw the impact of his violence on his children, whether he might consider connecting with ongoing supports and reengage with positive networks that he had previously been supported
    through and exploring alternative options to returning home, including staying with possibly family/friends.
  • The Mensline counsellor encouraged him to see how the Police intervention and the impact of his violence on his wife and children could be drawn upon as motivation for positive change and growth if he wanted to remain part of their lives and be a positive role model for his children.

James confirmed that he would receive his next Centrelink payment the following day, therefore, the Mensline counsellor, with the consent and input of the caller, was able to ring Anglicare in the next town and confirm that shared housing/hostel was available for the individual. The Mensline counsellor booked bus travel out of the town that evening, thereby removing him from the likelihood of returning to the home. The caller also entered into an agreement with the Mensline counsellor that he would contact us from the hostel the following morning to confirm what his plans were for that day, as well as to consider what further support he might need. The caller followed through with this agreement and contacted Mensline, stating that he planned to remain in the hostel for the next week whilst seeking to contact family who lived in Cairns with the intention of relocating and looking for employment.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Person Using Violence – 02

Police responded to calls of domestic and family violence in a Brisbane suburb. Jim* had caused physical harm to his wife and was ordered to immediately vacate the house until Court proceedings involving his matter had concluded. Police referred Jim to DVConnect for immediate support, clarification and assistance with accommodation and other necessities. During his engagement with DVConnect, the counsellor was able to identify Jim was actively minimising the harm he caused, attempting to justify his behaviours, and he referenced the severe ramifications Court proceedings would have on his job, housing and personal circumstances. Jim disclosed he had a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) taken out against him where he was under no circumstances allowed to approach the house or his family members. Jim disclosed he breached the DVO and had broken into the family house with the intention to self-harm and he had a rope in his possession. At this point in the conversation, Jim terminated the call. Mensline staff identified Jim was at high risk of self-harm and posed a threat to his family and immediately notified police. Jim was taken into custody.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Person Using Violence – 03

Police responded to a report of domestic and family violence in remote Northern Queensland. On attendance, Police identified that Tom* would likely benefit from services that could assist with addressing his violent behaviour and referred Tom to DVConnect Mensline. DVConnect Mensline were unable to contact Tom on the phone, however Mensline mailed a letter to Tom which highlighted the services available, which included crisis counselling, clarification of Court processes, support and assistance to access local services and that having a conversation that would encourage Tom to look at the safety and wellbeing of other individuals affected by his decision to use violence. Tom contacted DVConnect and was grateful Police had arranged an agency to initiate contact with him and offer help. Tom appreciated the seriousness of the situation and the critical need for change to benefit himself and all family members.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Person Using Violence – 04

David*, a recently retired ex-servicemen, contacted DVConnect following his use of domestic and family violence against his partner. David was stressed, confused and had become isolated from friends, family and colleagues after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). DVConnect’s Mensline discussed the impact of domestic and family violence on David’s partner and broader social networks and reinforced that it was critical to introduce change. Mensline provided information about the Court process, options available to him and Change Programs in his region. The Mensline counsellor highlighted the nature of trauma and PTSD and discussed healthy coping strategies. As well as what it would mean to David if he were to irreversibly damage his relationship with his partner and children as a consequence of his choices. David committed to regaining his fitness and reconnecting with friends, colleagues, his Church and family members. David recognised domestic and family violence services were vital for improving his wellbeing and his relationship with his partner. Several weeks later once Court processes were complete, David called back and stated he signed up for ongoing behavioural change assistance. He also stated that DVConnect Mensline had been significant in his journey towards rehabilitation. He advised his personal circumstances had been improving remarkably with the professional support he was receiving and he expressed gratitude to Police and DVConnect Mensline counsellors.`

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – 05

Shaun* rang the DVConnect Mensline and stated he fled to Queensland from Melbourne*, as he was unable to find an organisation in Melbourne that could support him. Shaun stated his partner was very violent to him and has made him permanently disabled due to many surgeries he has had on his leg from assaults. Shaun spoke about how he is qualified in his chosen industry, however, he had been unable to work in this field for the last year due to the severity of his injuries. Shaun informed the Mensline counsellor that he was kicked out of his family home at 15 years old because his family didn’t approve of him identifying as gay and therefore, he doesn’t have family support. He also said that his ex-partner is in jail for 6 breaches of the Domestic Violence Order (DVO), but Shaun remained fearful of the potential ramifications to his personal safety when his ex-partner was released. He blamed Shaun for calling the Police after the most recent serious assault. Shaun had been staying in an Air BnB and was unsure where to start in terms of linking in with support services. The Mensline counsellor provided emotional support and discussed ‘gayshare housing’ which allows room sharing with people from the queer community, who Shaun stated he would feel safer staying with. Open Doors was also provided as an option (Shaun is under 25 years old) and the option for face to face support through Open Doors was discussed. Information for Diverse Voices and Homeless Hotline Information Queenland (HPIQ) was also text through to him so that Shaun had immediate access to services that were available to assist him in meeting his immediate needs. Shaun thanked the counsellor for all the support and stated he felt overwhelmed that someone was willing to talk to him and provide him with non-judgemental support after everything that he had experienced.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

 

Mensline Feedback – Person Using Violence – 06

A DVConnect Mensline counsellor contacted a male client named Sam* who was referred to DVConnect by Police. The Police were seeking our assistance to help Sam, who was the perpetrator of domestic and family violence. As often is the case, the male client was angry and blamed others to minimise his involvement and contribution to the domestic and violence. The counsellor assured Sam that our offer of assistance was sincere and that there certainly is a way forward to improve the situation for him and the family. Sam had been served with a Domestic Violence Application that morning and was confused and angry. The information DVConnect Mensline provided Sam about the application and court process took away much of the his anxiety, which allowed him to be more open to hear about other positive and useful information our counsellor provided. After discussing the situation and the impact of his behaviour upon his family and that of his children who were 4 and 6, he agreed to seek further assistance and participate in a Men’s Behavioural Change Program. This type of outcome is a critical piece in the holistic response towards Queensland being free from domestic, family and sexual violence.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

Thank you for your help, for everything you have done for me over the last few days. Your services are more than impressive and impeccable for anyone who may be in danger or in need of help of any kind. I may not be here today without your protection and the services you provided me. It is amazing to know there are people out there that give their absolute best to keep others safe, because they can and they care. Before making the call to you I felt too ashamed and far too proud to ask anyone for help. But now I feel strong knowing that I had the courage to put my hand up and ask for help. It saved my life! 

Sarah, Gold Coast

We need your support.

With your donation we can:

  • Provide more emergency transport and accommodation to those escaping violence.
  • Provide more temporary accommodation for pets whose families have escaped violence.
  • Provide more crisis counselling to those who have experienced violence.
  • Educate Queenslanders on how they can help family/friends experiencing violence.