My First Year as a Rapid Response Worker

 

I come from a background in medical science and a laboratory so quiet you can hear a pin drop, so moving to Bonnie’s was quite different to what I had become accustomed to. The office here has a constant buzz of activity with women coming in and out, children’s toys scattered across the floor and staff laughing at the lunch table. 

I was very outside of my comfort zone and not long after joining Bonnie’s I was offered a position in the rapid response team.

Being on this team was eye opening to say the least. I could never imagine the things I have heard and have seen that so many women are subjected to. Every day I am angry at the experiences that are shared with me and yet every day I am in awe of the strength of the women I work with – both colleagues and clients alike. This means that every day I am thankful Bonnie’s exists and that we work in conjunction with other services in order to make a difference.

“Every day I am angry at the experiences that are shared with me and yet every day I am in awe of the strength of the women I work with – both colleagues and clients alike.”

I’ll always remember my first experience with a client that was as close to perfect as a social worker could ask for. This was my first intake flying solo and we were mid pandemic. I went to meet an 18 year old mum in temporary accommodation with a 6 month old daughter who didn’t speak any English. She had been forced to leave her last refuge due to her ex-partner tracking her phone. A new place had been organised but due to the phone being compromised with spyware that was no longer an option either. 

I was racking my brain as to how to show empathy and compassion through a mask and an interpreter. The phone interpreter was calm and soft natured, explaining to the client what Bonnie’s was and if she wanted our support, what that would look like. When I asked for her story she didn’t say much and cried as she hugged her daughter. I asked if she would like our support and she replied,  ‘Very much.’ She then stated she didn’t know people like us existed and kept saying ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.’  At the end of the assessment two female police officers arrived to drop off a new phone and a $50 giftcard for a SIM card. 

“She didn’t know people like us existed.”

We assisted this young mum with everything we possibly could have including Centrelink, victims’ services, taking her to the police station to make statements, securing her bank account, taking her daughter to the doctors as well as making a referral for a transitional property.  The workers attending the intake for the transitional property fawned over her daughter and attempted to make her smile whilst walking around the property. That was nice!

Once she was settled in, I spoke with the female multicultural liaison office at the police station who had organised to pick up all the Mum’s stuff that she’d had to leave in a hurry.

 

 

It was stored in the basement of the police station and when I arrived a group of five female officers helped my colleague and I load my car. When we took it back to where the mum was now, she hugged me as I said goodbye. We spoke to the other organisation who asked us if we wanted to take some nappies as their office was full. We gladly accepted them.

For my first client all the pieces came together to get this woman to safety. Every service played a small part in helping her rebuild her life. This young woman showed an incredible amount of strength and resilience to leave, just wanting a better life for her daughter who meant everything to her. 

I have been a rapid response worker for over a year now.  We do what we can to help women rebuild their lives but it rarely  runs as smoothly as I would like. I keep the hope that all women who come into Bonnie’s can have experiences like this one because when women come together to help each other, what a difference it makes! 

By Maddy,

Rapid Response Worker at Bonnie’s.

 

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