Q&A with Lucy from Safe Steps
Recently we spoke to Lucy who works at Safe Steps as a family violence crisis response support worker. Here she gives us some insight into her role, its challenges and what it offers a new graduate venturing into the sector.
What led you onto a career path in family violence?
This is my first job in the sector since completing a Master of Public Policy. I didn’t intentionally set out on a career in family violence but after completing my university placement at Gender Equity Victoria, the seed was sown. Family violence is very much grounded in politics, sociology, and psychology, and because I’d studied politics at university, and loved it, the work really resonated with me.
I applied for this role at Safe Steps because I wanted to have on the ground experience and work in an organisation that deals directly with clients and other services. In the future when my knowledge base is stronger and I'm more confident and experienced in the sector, I’d like to move into a policy role.
What skills do you need to work as a family violence crisis response support worker?
You need to be very flexible, have good time management skills and an ability to prioritise and juggle competing demands. You also need to have good organisational skills. My role involves providing support to the case management and the intake and assessment teams. It’s very logistical and administrative, and involves everything from paying invoices, data entry, to doing more hands-on work like booking accommodation, sourcing material and items for clients.
Can you describe a day in the life of a crisis response support worker?
Safe Steps is a crisis service so no one day is like the next. Mornings typically involve sourcing emergency accommodation for our clients. We review on a day-by-day basis because a client's case plans can change so quickly.
The rest of the day involves everything from invoicing, getting food vouchers and material aid to women and children in accommodation. I also work closely with the case managers to resolve any issues that arise at the hotel. This can be as simple as a client needing more pillows, or it might involve working on a crisis situation that is happening for her where she is staying.
What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your role?
The highlight has been learning firsthand about the nature and complexities of family violence. Hearing and learning about client’s experiences and listening to the incredible knowledge from the case management team and our managers is so rewarding.
My main challenge is learning how to create more boundaries with my work. As a support worker you get a lot of requests so it’s important to know how and when to respond appropriately to them. It can also be challenging hearing about what our clients have been through, as well as negotiating the relationship between other services in the sector.
What has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Safe Steps clients?
Women and children were in our service a lot longer than they normally would be because there were limited exit options for them. We also had women reaching out for the first time and the complexity of clients increased. We also had an expectation that there'd be a lot more calls, but the reality was that it was difficult for some women to make those calls because they didn't have the space and time away from their perpetrators to reach out to us. This led to Safe Steps establishing a new online webchat function. We’ve had some incredible outcomes with that, it’s brought women into our service who normally wouldn’t access it. It’s also been incredibly useful in providing basic information to women and doing safety planning with them.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start a career in the family violence sector?
You just need to be passionate and compassionate, and have resilience. It is a sector that values a broad range of skills and experience whether that's academic, lived or cultural. Just put what you have on the table and be open to connecting with others in the sector. It’s definitely rewarding.