Working Paper

Engaging with the Domestic Violence Action Centre: Survivor Experiences

Published: 2024

The Domestic Violence Action Centre (DVAC) provides specialised, trauma-informed support to survivors of domestic, family, and sexual violence in South-East Queensland. The aim of this exploratory study was to understand survivors’ experiences engaging with DVAC’s services, the most useful aspects of DVAC support, and the major challenges that survivors face on their journeys to safety and healing.

Survivors Journeys: Many survivors were not actively seeking help for gender-based violence when they were first referred to DVAC, but once engaged they benefited from advocacy, counselling, referral to other services, and safety planning. These services were highly beneficial for helping them come to terms with the violence they had experienced and begin to move forward with their lives. Useful Aspects of DVAC Support: DVAC support workers created a safe and welcoming environment where survivors felt comfortable to be open, honest, and ask for the help they needed. Affirming and survivor-led modes of delivery were critical for supporting survivors to build their confidence and feelings of self-efficacy. This empowered them to exert agency in their lives and make the choices they felt comfortable with. Major Challenges: Survivors spoke about DVAC having limited capacity to fully meet their support needs, both in terms of the long wait times to access the services, as well as the time-limited nature of the support. They also experienced a critical lack of understanding of domestic violence among the wider community. Survivors referred to financial hardship as one the largest barriers they faced on their journeys to safety and healing.

We recommend increased funding for specialist domestic violence services such as DVAC, to ensure survivors receive the longevity of support that they require. We further recommend the implementation of the First Action Plan of the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-232, and the recommendations featured within the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce Report. This will help prevent domestic violence and ameliorate the financial hardship experienced by survivors so that no Australian is forced to choose between violence and poverty.


Campbell, A., Kuskoff, E., Lloyd, M., Baxter, J., & Harper, M. (2024). Engaging with the Domestic Violence Action Centre: Survivor Experiences, Life Course Centre Working Paper Series, 2024-09. Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland. DOI: 10.14264/ee0ba1a