Advocating on behalf of our clients, we are committed to informing and influencing policy, legislation and community attitudes. We actively lead and participate in research, service evaluation and quality assurance processes to strengthen our specialist service response.
Evaluating our virtual services
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in response to the first lockdown and recognising the impact of the lockdown for our clients, we moved quickly to enable all practitioners to deliver services virtually to clients, using a range of platforms including video, phone and webchat. This year, we have delivered more than 1,300 consultations via our online video platform to clients across the Barwon area and Wimmera region.
We engaged the Nous Group to conduct an evaluation of our virtual services between February 2021 to June 2021. Working closely together, we designed an evaluation to understand the impact of the use of the online platforms to deliver our client services during COVID-19. Understanding how effective these platforms have been for our clients and staff is vital to understand how we continue to engage with these platforms in the future.
The evaluation engaged with 54 staff and clients (15 staff and 39 clients) from across our client services team and client group in both the Barwon area and Wimmera region, evaluating the appropriateness, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of our virtual services.
The evaluation concluded that overall, clients had a positive experience of The SAFV Centre’s virtual services, with overwhelmingly positive feedback. Of the clients interviewed the report found:
- Many interviewed clients reported finding it easier to attend and ‘open up’ in virtual services
- Connecting via video contributed to a positive experience for some clients; others were more comfortable speaking over the phone
- The skills of The SAFV Centre practitioners were critical to creating a positive virtual experience
- Virtual services are more inclusive for certain client cohorts:
- Alleviating financial and time pressures.
- Reducing challenges associated with leaving the house for clients experiencing mental health issues and illnesses.
- Removing physical movement requirements for clients with a disability.
- Allowing for flexibility in children’s sessions.
The evaluation reinforced that our practitioners were highly skilled in making clients feel comfortable with virtual delivery, both on the video platforms or over the phone. Clients reported that the level of care they experienced was not compromised by virtual delivery and appreciated how practitioners were still able to pick up nuances in tone and pauses virtually. In virtual group sessions, practitioners made participants feel comfortable by facilitating the conversation well and giving everyone a chance to speak.
Clients reported that they felt safe using the virtual platforms, with 96 percent of those surveyed felt safe or very safe using virtual services and 95 percent felt confident or very confident that their privacy was protected. The main concern experienced by clients was being overheard by people in their own surroundings.
While the report found the client experience was positive, there were some barriers faced by our practitioners.
Overall, the evaluation found that our virtual service delivery is high quality, with benefits felt by clients and staff:
- 86 percent of surveyed clients stated that they would ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ use virtual services again in the future.
- Clients reported improved strategies in coping with trauma and their children through individual counselling sessions, case management and group sessions.
- Clients highlighted feeling less anxious and better able to talk about their experiences with others as a result of the support.
Co-occurrence of violence and the impact on clients
The co-occurrence of sexual assault and family violence is very real for many of our clients, with our data this year reflecting an increase in the co-occurrence across all our client cohorts.
In the last financial year, 51 percent of people accessing our services for sexual assault support, had also experienced family violence. 34 percent of people accessing support for family violence case management from our organisation, reported having also experienced sexual assault. A significant proportion (63%) of young clients accessing our Sexually Abusive Behaviours Treatment Services in the last financial year also identified that they had been impacted by family violence.
Often these forms of violence are treated separately despite the growing awareness of the co-occurrence of sexual assault and family violence, its serious impact and the needs of clients impacted by both. In the coming financial year, we will continue to focus on the impact of that co-occurrence has on those impacted by violence and their trauma.
We thank all of our clients who have found the courage to share their stories and advocate the importance of support services to government and the community.
Corporate and community support – submissions
This year, we were successful in our submissions to a number of grants. These grants have contributed to supporting clients and staff, along with working towards primary prevention. We thank all philanthropic and corporate grants and donors for their support of the important work of our organisation, and for our community.
- Give Where You Live Survive and Thrive Grant
- Geelong Connected Communities Grant
- Myer Community Fund – Emergency Relief Grants
- CommBank Staff Foundation Community Grants 2020
- Dawn Wade Foundation
As an organisation, we are committed and driven to creating social, political, economic, and cultural change, challenging gender stereotypes, and supporting women to feel safe, respected and recognised. We are proud to have signed the following joint statements on behalf of our organisation and those we support:
- Fair Agenda – Joint statement: Enough is enough
- Don’t Close the Door/ ERO cuts to homelessness services campaign
- Let Us Speak Victoria campaign
We continue to promote our organisation and services to the community and we were fortunate to be supported through media, including the Geelong Advertiser, Geelong Independent, BayFM 93.9, KRock and Pulse, along with The Wimmera Mail Times, the Weekly Advertiser and The Advocate, who have provided a strong awareness within the community of sexual assault and family violence, and the services and support we offer. Thank you for your support.
Here are a few of our key media stories shared this year:
- Geelong Advertiser, 7 July 2020 – Family violence rises during COVID-19
- BayFM, 5 August 2020 – WebChat launch
- Geelong Independent, 11 August 2020 – Survivor fights to share her story
- Geelong Advertiser, 27 December 2020 – Family violence support surges during pandemic
- Give Where You Live, 22 February, 2021 – Keeping people safe in the face of COVID restrictions
- Geelong Advertiser, 5 March 2021 – How family violence perps are weaponising technology
- Times News Group, 15 April 2021 – Next plan should stop violence before it starts
- ABC News, 17 April 2021 – More survivors of sexual assault are coming forward for help after Grace Tame put the issue in the spotlight
- ABC The Drum, 19 April – Sexual Assault survivors coming forward
- The Advocate, 28 April 2021 – The many barriers facing Sexual Assault Survivors in Rural Victoria
- Geelong Advertiser, 29 May 2021- Family Violence victims can seek support during lockdown
- Wimmera Mail Times, 11 June 2021 – Wimmera and Grampians show shocking levels of domestic violence