DV ‘shield’ trial to protect Sunshine Coast families

Sunshine Coast Council

A smart watch fitted with special tracking and alarm technology, designed to keep children and victims safe from domestic violence situations, will be distributed to 10 at-risk families from this month.

The trial was made possible with the backing of a $10,000 Sunshine Coast Council major grant, enabling a collaboration between the StandbyU Foundation – pioneers of the StandbyU Shield – and local not-for-profit Youturn Youth Support (formerly United Synergies) who will distribute the watches to those in need.

StandbyU Foundation Founder and Executive Director Chris Boyle said the partnership would give people seeking support a tangible, long-term solution that would help them feel independent and in control of their personal safety.

“The StandbyU Shield brings together the person-at-risk’s friends, family and case workers into a support network and uses special smart watches to keep them connected at critical moments,” Mr Boyle said.

“It means that help from people who know and care about the person-at-risk is never more than a click of a button away. When an alert is activated, the support network can listen in and locate the person in need, so they can decide the best, safest response, whether that be a ‘covert’ intervention or escalation to emergency services.”

Youturn Intensive Family Care Manager Kelly Caple works with vulnerable families and provides intensive early intervention.

“These shields are a simple alternative for victims to wear and have that added element of safety for the family who may still be living at home with the perpetrator,” Mrs Caple said.

“A large amount of our referrals have elements of domestic and family violence. Ultimately, we’d love to see these shields across all organisations, community services and family programs.”

Sunshine Coast Council Community Portfolio Councillor David Law said he was pleased to see the shields would be delivered prior to Christmas.

“Unfortunately the pressures of Christmas, school holidays and back-to-school expenses can result in stressful and volatile times and can lead to domestic and family violence incidents occurring in the family home,” Cr Law said.

“Our Major Grants Program supports not-for-profit organisations to deliver one-off projects, events and activities with broad community benefit and I’m very glad to see StandbyU and Youturn successful on this occasion.

“One of the goals of our Sunshine Coast Community Strategy 2019-2041 is to nurture creative and innovative approaches to building a strong community, because together we thrive.”

Mr Boyle said the trial, to conclude next year, was the beginning of a long partnership to keep children and victims safe from domestic violence.

“The trial will be evaluated and these learnings will build the case to advocate for more funding from the State and Commonwealth Governments to increase impact.

“StandbyU Foundation will continue to support the costs associated with the devices into the future to ensure these families remain safe and connected,” Mr Boyle said.

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