Gabrielle Borggaard is stepping down after 11 years as CEO of the Domestic Violence Action Centre.
Gabrielle Borggaard is stepping down after 11 years as CEO of the Domestic Violence Action Centre.

Departing domestic violence boss's vision for a safer future

THE departing CEO of an Ipswich domestic violence service wants relationship education made mandatory in Queensland schools despite issues being brought further into the light over the past decade.

Gabrielle Borggaard will move on to personal practice after 11 years at the helm of the Domestic Violence Action Centre at the end of the month.

The not-for-profit organisation has been in operation in Ipswich since 1996 and provides services, support and education across the city, Toowoomba and surrounding regions.

"Growing the organisation has been the biggest achievement," she said.

"We have far more capacity than what we had before. But sadly we are still up against demand.

"Ipswich in particular is a very fast growing region, so despite growing a lot particularly in the last four years, we are still under the pump and struggling with the demand for our services.

"I'm really pleased we were able to get those additional resources and we were really successful in our funding applications because it makes a big difference to people that really need it.

"We're just not quite there yet in terms of meeting all the demand for our services sadly."

Ms Borggaard said people were more educated about domestic violence than a decade ago but a "cultural shift" still needed to happen to try and eradicate it.

The organisation supported 3644 Ipswich clients to access support for domestic, family and sexual violence related matters last year.

"Social media platforms are creating a space where it's talked about a lot … there's more people seeking help and more people coming forward," she said.

"If we don't invest more as a culture in changing our values and belief systems around relationships, around how women are to be treated and about what healthy relationships are, I don't know that we are going to see change.

"I would love to see (respectful relationship education) as a compulsory part of the curriculum … right through from Prep to Year 12."

Ms Borggaard said more programs were also needed to change offenders' behaviour.

"There are a few of them now but nowhere near enough," she said.

"If we don't we're going to be going around in circles and nothing is going to ever really change."

In dealing with a lot of young people through school programs, Ms Borggaard said it was surprising to hear how they approached relationships.

"They have some really crazy 'aha' moments," she said.

"People do think 'my boyfriend he tells me what to wear because he loves me so much'.

"I would think that's something that we would all know. We realise that's not necessarily the case.

"I don't think that's something that's truly sunk in.

"It has been such a privilege working in this role. Working with all the people that have accessed our service, it's such a gift really to be let into their lives just for a brief moment and be able to help."

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. 

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