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Help is in one place at The Orange Door

Opinion piece by Minister for Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams.

30/08/19 1.26am

Jennifer kept her phone and car keys in her pocket, even around her own home. Because she never knew when she’d have to run.

Many of these 50,000 people, including 20,000 children, were affected by family violence and like Jennifer, were in no state to navigate a complex new system. The Family Violence Royal Commission told us this back in 2017 and we listened. The resulting Orange Doors are one-stop hubs where you can arrive and get the different sorts of help you need in one place.

She slept, ate, dressed, brushed her teeth alongside someone who filled her with fear. Someone who could unexpectedly scream at her or worse at any moment. Someone whose violent smashing of objects near her sent a clear and threatening message, which made her dread walking in her own front door.

The day she left she had only her handbag, too broken to know what she needed beyond one thing – escape.

“You are too emotionally exhausted to go and find the separate services you might need – police protection, housing, finance, support with kids, clothing, counselling,” she says.

“That’s why The Orange Door works.”

If you’re like most Victorians, you don’t know what the Orange Door is.

But one year after the first one was established, 50,000 Victorians who have been referred to an Orange Door know exactly what they are.

Many of these 50,000 people, including 20,000 children, were affected by family violence and like Jennifer, were in no state to navigate a complex new system.

The Family Violence Royal Commission told us this back in 2017 and we listened. The resulting Orange Doors are one-stop hubs where you can arrive and get the different sorts of help you need in one place.

You tell your story just once – and then the support services work together to see how you can be helped to re-build your life. Information can be safely shared to get you what you need. Risk is managed. It all takes place in a secure, welcoming, child-friendly facility where safety is paramount.

You’re not standing in a refuge trying to work out how to get new clothes for the kids, or sitting in a car trying to understand what services you’re eligible for at a time when you’re already deeply stressed.

You’ve been through enough already.

This week we marked the first anniversary of the Orange Door in Victoria. We’ve built five so far and we still have 12 to go – one for every health department region in Victoria.

Behind each of these hubs is a dedicated and hardworking team of professionals from a range of disciplines, united in their mission to help every single person who walks through the door, in the best way possible for that individual. I am proud of them all as we mark this first milestone together.

We all have a right to feel safe in our own homes. But we know only too well that with one woman murdered each week in Australia by her partner or former partner, some women, like Jennifer, feel far from safe. Some women and children go about their daily lives feeling quietly terrified.

That’s why Victoria is leading Australia and indeed the world in building a new family violence prevention system. More than three years after the Royal Commission we have implemented 120 of the Commission’s 227 recommendations on creating major change, with the last 107 well underway.

The Orange Door is just one piece of that change.

For help contact safe steps, Victoria’s 24/7 family violence response line: 1800 015 188

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Reviewed 03 October 2019

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