Adjournment Speech - StandbyU Foundation

Adjournment Speech - StandbyU Foundation

I rise to put on the record my admiration and respect for two important groups in the Queensland community. One of them is based on the Gold Coast these days. It's called the StandbyU Foundation, and it's run by a fellow called Chris Boyle.

 

Chris is about as passionate as a person can possibly be about stopping domestic and family violence in our communities. He's also observed that the traditional approach of just telephoning the police when things go wrong hasn't been very effective in reducing the incidence of violence against women—or, indeed, men who experience this violence. So he applied his deep understanding of social work from his years in the field, talking to women about what the barriers are to them—for instance, in leaving situations that are dangerous. He came to understand that domestic violence is really about disconnection; it's really about isolation. The first thing somebody who is perpetrating domestic violence does is isolate their victim from the connections they need to feel safe, to get help and to get the support and strength to be able to defend themselves in an effective way. He realised then that the antidote to isolation is connection. So, StandbyU Foundation's work is all about providing women who are at risk—who are in vulnerable situations—with the connections they need and easy ways to access those connections to get them out of dangerous situations fast and bring them to safety.

The StandbyU safety shield is a smart watch, which at the touch of a button can bring to your aid some of the people who you know, no matter what, would drop everything and come to help you if you were in danger. That invention has been so successful in a trial of the issue of 100 of the safety shields to women on the Gold Coast. Despite them being highly at risk women and despite the fact that the emergency button on the safety shield was pressed more than 3,000 times, there was only one escalation into actual violence that required emergency services to be called.

Now StandbyU are taking it a step further with the help of Westfield Helensvale. They've opened up Magnolia Place. Magnolia Place is a shopfront in the shopping centre, and it provides an opportunity for people who are at risk of domestic and family violence to connect with all of the services that they need to be able to get themselves out of danger and into safety. One of the things Chris observed in his work was that even women in the most restrictive of situations were still allowed to go to the shops, because every family needs food. So it provided an easy way in an accessible place for vulnerable people to get the help that they need.

I want to commend Chris and the team at StandbyU, and I also want to give a shout-out to Westfield Helensvale for their generous support for a peppercorn lease of this important project. It is very literally creating opportunities to break a cycle for another generation of young people, and it is providing real ways out of dangerous situations for women in need.