#WFH social work? Helping more women

It was New Year’s Eve 2021 and I was at work when I got the call that my Dad was in the hospital. The doctors had tried everything, and it wasn’t looking good – at that moment all I wanted to do was go home and be with him. The thing was, he lived up the coast, far from the city and far from where I work, here at Bonnie’s. 

But as New Year’s Day came, and we welcomed 2022, my whanau (family) and I made the heart filled decision that I should go. When I told the team at Bonnie’s, they all understood and were very supportive and even found a new role for me to do – I was to be the new Outreach worker. 

The Outreach program is designed to meet the needs of women who have or are experiencing domestic violence, over a series of 10 sessions, maybe more if they need it. The difference is most of this work can be done over the phone. 

At first, I didn’t know how that could go. Could I really do social work from home? I was used to being there, holding a client’s hand every step of the way… but just a few days into the job I realised that this program was just as good – and in some cases, better than being there one the ground.

There’s one client that comes to mind:
 
She was on the run from her partner and she had already moved a lot – different suburbs, different states – to find safety. She changed where she slept most nights and couldn’t make it into Bonnie’s. So the Outreach program was great for her. Because through it all I was able to call her wherever she was and provide her with the unwavering support she needed.
 
I helped her with her safety plan, I got her housing, I connected her with the ‘dress for success’ support so she could get clothes for her job interview, Centrelink and helped her find a domestic violence counselling. And I did this all over the phone, all while living with my Dad.

This was her first step to safety, and the first is always the hardest and can be the most dangerous. There are many barriers to women seeking help but the Outreach program aims to make the transition between staying and leaving safer and better. This way we can help women who aren’t ready to come to a refuge, or who aren’t ready to leave. 

After the last two years of COVID, being able to be close to my family, living in a beautiful home I like to call a treehouse, feels special. Especially because I got to do what I love, work at Bonnie’s and do what I’m good at – support women and kids to safety from domestic violence, while also having a seachange. 

 

My Dad’s Treehouse

 

Blog and images by Adelle.

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