Human Services Quality Framework Support: Kowanyama Women's Shelter

Kowanyama shire at sunset.
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 Kowanyama, Queensland 

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Kowanyama Women's Shelter

Kowanyama Women's Shelter, 

Womens Services Co-ordinator,

Ani Seruvatu

Since 2013, QCOSS has provided a range of supports to assist the community sector to implement the Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF), including one-on-one or small group support, as well as providing up to date information and resources through the Community Door platform.

 
Providing support is a vital way for QCOSS to join forces with the sector and help community organisations to meet service delivery challenges.

The Kowanyama Women’s Shelter has been operating for more than twenty years and provides valued services to women and children escaping from domestic and family violence. Situated on the far-west coast of Queensland in the beautiful and unique wetlands of the Yir Yoront and Kunjen people, the Shelter’s vision is to transform the quality of life and wellbeing for the community in a spirit of justice and hope.  

When they were due to complete a HSQF certification – for the first time ever – the Shelter’s Women Services Co-ordinator, Ani Seruvatu, says she knew it was a challenge that would mentally and professionally test her abilities.


“No one ever thought Kowanyama Women’s Shelter would get certified,” she says.


Ani says there were a number of shortfalls in technological literacy, and a general misunderstanding about what was required to meet certification requirements. Initial  assessments uncovered three major non-conformities, – mostly in the paperwork. 


“I previously worked as a frontline worker in Aurukun at the Women’s Shelter for three years with RAATSICC (Remote Area Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Care), so I knew what forms I needed to develop for this particular shelter,” she says.

Kowanyama Women's Group.jpg

 Pictured: Kowanyama Women's Group 

“Some other co-ordinators who had come in before me did not fully understand what was required to meet HSQF standards… they really weren’t on the right track. The safety plans, the safety pathways – from intake to case management frameworks - the referrals have all changed so much now.”


The Kowanyama Women’s Shelter currently has three rooms, and also provides support to community members in many other ways – including assistance with housing applications, Centrelink enquiries, claims for stolen wages, and with issues involving the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.


Ani says she needed to hit the ground running on the certification, commencing in her role after the initial audits had already taken place. She was referred to QCOSS and began receiving some extra help from QCOSS Senior Sector Capacity Officer, Cassie Paton.


“Cassie did a great job. This was my first time doing HSQF, and she was able to make the process easy for me to understand, putting it in my English,” she says.


“Whenever there were emails saying ‘you forgot this’ or ‘you forgot that’, I was able to yarn with Cassie… I think QCOSS is great, and the work you do is fantastic.”


With Cassie’s help and the suite of resources available on QCOSS’ Community Door platform, the Kowanyama Women’s Shelter was able to successfully complete certification.
“It took us three months to complete the audit.”


“QCOSS is like the Google of social services and HSQF, translating so many resources into everyday English. That simplification, plain speaking – I thought if it helped me, oh my gosh, it must help a lot of other discrete communities.”