Working with women for women was a big change from one of my previous careers where I worked as an Administrative Assistant to the Financial Controller of an International Property & Investment company. While that job was a good experience, working on the frontline helping women every day is something else!
My role as an intake worker means gathering information to work out what a woman needs and what other services or accommodation can be provided. We have a “No Wrong Door” policy which means if someone is seeking assistance we will help in some way, no matter what.
We often need the help of translators because we have clients from a large range of cultures and backgrounds. About 20% of our clients don’t speak English which can make the intake process really challenging at times. The accuracy of the intake can be influenced by the skill of the translator.
It can also be difficult to discuss some issues in certain cultures where there is no word or concept for the questions we ask such as in the DVSAT (Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool) there is a question regarding suicide and in some cultures there isn’t the right word to express that. Skilled interpreters can make a big difference and facilitate a better experience for the client. Once they are in the refuge or in our transitional property we hand over the client to their Family Workers and Child/Youth Workers to start working with them.
For me, the best part of the job is talking to and helping women get to safety. There is no better feeling than securing a safe place for women and their children after they flee abusive environments or experience homelessness.
I believe it’s so important for the clients to realise that there is help available – our door is always open. This can be life changing for some, especially visa clients who have had their precarious situation used to control them.