Program helping people to return home safely

Program helping people to return home safely

A domestic violence program launched this year has seen Aboriginal woman, their children and partners being supported safely back to their communities, including in the Port Augusta region.

The pilot program, called Marni-Padni - Pukulpay anama, which means Journey safe, Safe Journeys in both Kaurna and Pitjantjatjara languages, was launched in July, following a $300,000 federal government injection, and will continue until at least the end of the year.

The program has supported 85 clients, including 71 who safely returned to their home region and 14 with plans and funding to make the journey home, or who were supported with case management to stay and make a safe home in Adelaide.

A total of 55 women, 21 children and nine men have been supported.

Of those 85 clients, about nine per cent have come from, and are supported to return, Eyre and Western South Australia, with the Department of Human Services confirming this has included clients from Port Augusta.

Other locations include the Northern Territory (about 42 per cent), APY Lands (about 33 per cent), Western Australia (about nine per cent) and other regional locations in South Australia (about eight per cent).

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said the program had supported Aboriginal people with limited or no options to travel back to home communities.

"Every South Australian deserves to live safely and free from violence but we know some women face additional challenges that they can't overcome on their own," she said.

"The Safe Journey's program success has come from building relationships and trust - and then going the extra mile to help women and their children return home to family and community on country.

"Supporting at-risk women and children remains a Marshall Liberal Government priority and that's why we're delivering a record $21 million in DV support and prevention measures to ensure there is support and help available when people need it."

Delivered by Baptist Care, the program uses Aboriginal-specific case management and a brokerage model to fund the costs associated with travel home.

Some of the support provided includes:

  • funding to cover the cost of bus travel or flights, including excess baggage
  • funding to cover transfers to and from airports
  • food vouchers and weather-appropriate clothing for before and after the journey
  • help to obtain the photo ID necessary to make travel bookings
  • support to undertake COVID-19 testing before travel

Baptist Care project manager Rochelle Smith said there were very real barriers facing Aboriginal people who wanted to return home but become stranded in Adelaide, often after coming to support family members receiving hospital treatment.

"When someone is sleeping rough, it's understandable that they are reluctant to part with any of their belongings - but this can mean they face excess baggage fees that put the cost of a flight home out of reach," she said.

"Even administrative burdens that are a small hassle for most of us - like completing a cross-border travel exemption form - can be a minefield for a person experiencing homelessness, who has no fixed address or phone number to put down.

"One client we helped had a beloved pet dog who couldn't be left behind, so we were able to arrange a vet health check-up to ensure the dog would be approved to travel home with her and her partner."