Real estate agents are in the business of selling the dream of a happy home.
But for some families, home is not a safe or happy place.
This was the message that local agents heard at the launch of a new program to support victims of domestic violence.
In the last 12 months, the demand for domestic violence services has increased, with Sutherland Shire Family Services (SSFS) experiencing an increase in referrals to their service.
SSFS staff are currently working with more than 175 families at any one time, with many more on their wait list.
The increase in demand has seen SSFS seek more community support.
Under a new program, unique to the shire, SSFS has teamed up with Sutherland Shire real estate agents who have pledged monetary support for domestic violence programs for the next 12 months.
Yesterday at a breakfast at Cronulla RSL, the principals of some of the shire’s leading real estate agencies were introduced to the Unlock Program, a new initiative from Sutherland Shire Family Services to raise funds for families and children impacted by domestic violence.
Under the program, real estate agents will commit to a monthly donation to support SSFS domestic violence support programs.
There are three levels of support: gold, silver and bronze. As a gold supporter, agents will donate $500 a month to SSFS programs for the next 12 months, silver will be $200 a month, and bronze $100 a month.
Current SSFS supporters Ben Fairfax from Capital Bluestone, Chris Ryan from PAYCE, Sutherland Shire mayor Carmelo Pesce, director of Shire Planning at Sutherland Shire Council, Peter Barber, and David Highland from Highland Property Agents, led the forum and think tank on where the property market in the shire is heading.
The panel participated in considered discussions about the importance of businesses involved in the property Industry, understanding that to build communities, it is more than just homes.
SSFS chief executive officer Diane Manns told the agents that by making a monthly donation to SSFS services they can join the fight against domestic violence.
“We designed the Unlock Program to create broad awareness of the issues of domestic violence in the community, and obviously, to raise much needed funds for our service to ensure ongoing sustainability,” Ms Manns said.
“Many women and children live in fear every day, and need support services like those provided by us such as individual casework, crisis safety planning, and therapeutic programs to help them heal from that trauma.”
David Highland, of Highland Property Agents, who signed up to the program said, “When you hear of the alarming statistics that police are attending to 12 families for domestic violence incidents every day and that children are present in three out of every five homes where Police respond to domestic violence incidents, it’s hard to not want to get involved and help in whatever way we can.”
Suzanne Hibberd, from Abode Property Agents was enthusiastic about getting behind the program.
“This great initiative gives us an opportunity to really help people in our community,” she said.
“As a local agent for over 20 years, it is my pleasure to be a part of an industry that supports the community in this way.”
Several other agents committed on the spot to the program and will be supporting Sutherland Shire Family Services in the coming year to support children and families suffering with trauma from the impact of domestic violence.
Sutherland Shire Family Services (SSFS) is a local, not for profit community organisation that offers a range of programs and services that aim to support and strengthen the capacity of families within our community, particularly those that have been impacted by disadvantage, violence and trauma.
SSFS are based at Jannali, with further programs offered from our Engadine sites and have been supporting families in the Sutherland Shire for 30 years.
Anyone wanting to donate to Sutherland Shire Family Services can go to their website at www.ssfs.org.au/donate.