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News Hub Community Update: Coronavirus COVID-19

New role to assist families in need

A funding announcement by the Department of Child Safety Youth and Women earlier this year has led to the appointment of a Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Worker (social worker) at Nhulundu Health Service. This new role will help in responding to the needs of clients affected by domestic and family violence, prioritising the safety of victims and their children.

Social worker Casey O’Reilly, who completed her senior high school years in Gladstone prior to relocating to Townsville, comes with a solid background in domestic and family violence. “I completed my Bachelor of Social Work at JCU and stayed on for several more years working in crisis support,” she said. “This included counselling women and children, crisis work and supporting clients through Supportlink referrals from the police.”

With her parents still living in the Gladstone area, Casey said her original plans were to relocate to Melbourne, however the roll-out of the additional funding – aimed at responding to the needs of clients affected by domestic and family violence – presented an opportunity to work at Nhulundu Health Service. “There’s a definite need for this type of service in the community,” she said. “We have a lot of infrastructure in the area and there’s a lot going on – but in amongst that there are issues surrounding housing, drugs, domestic violence, etc.”

Taking up the new position in early August, Casey said she has begun building a client base in addition to networking with other service providers to ensure she can on-refer if required. “My clients are coming from a variety of sources including referrals from staff in our Family Wellbeing Program as well as nurses and clinicians at Nhulundu Health Clinic,” Casey said. “They’re in an excellent position to identify potential clients so it’s a matter of getting the word out that I’m available to meet with them where and when it suits.” This can mean home visits or clients attending the office, however Casey said the important thing was to begin building a relationship with the client and, if necessary, their children.

Nhulundu Health Service CEO, Matthew Cooke, welcomed the new appointment. “Casey’s role will enable us to expand our Family Wellbeing Program to help support vulnerable people and families,” he said. “In particular those in our community who may have been impacted by COVID.”

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