A new program has launched in New South Wales to help train real estate agents in how to deal with domestic violence on their properties.
The program, DV-aware is spearheaded by Embassy Real Estate agent Stephanie Dunn and is being rolled out in Paramatta, Wollongong and Sydney CBD before expanding nationwide.
For Ms Dunn, the program came about after she recognised that, as a property manager, she was inspecting properties and sometimes came across obvious signs of domestic violence.
“As real estate managers, we tend to go in and do inspections, and there may be obvious signs of domestic violence, whether it is damage or the person themselves disclosing the information,” the agent said.
“It actually puts you in a place of strong potential to help. For me, I thought it is just another opportunity to be a network of support for people who perhaps might be feeling isolated due to domestic violence.”
The program consists of a three-hour course for real estate professionals that focuses on domestic violence preparedness and response training.
“It gives information around domestic violence warning signs and things to look out for, and then it looks at skills in terms of what is the most appropriate way to respond. So, what will be safe for the person in the situation and for the professional,” Ms Dunn said.
The DV-alert course is a tried and tested program, according to Ms Dunn, who has worked with Parramatta Mission to tailor it for real estate agents.
“DV-alert is something Lifeline has been rolling out to frontline workers like nurses and emergency services to develop this program. And we’ve worked with Parramatta Mission to tailor this for real estate professionals,” the agent said.
Ms Dunn said that it was important that the program recognised that real estate agents are not in emergency services.
“It is responsive to the agent’s capacity to respond in their profession. They’re not ambulance people, they’re not police, but they are another chance for people to reach out,” the agent said.
The program already has the support of institute bodies where it will count for professional development points.
“In order to launch it out to the industry, we were able to get the course registered [for] continued professional development points through the real estate institute in the states, so it gives agents another little incentive.”
After the program’s initial launch, it will expand to Tasmania, then WA and Queensland before becoming a nationwide program.
“We decided to focus on the states that have the continued professionals points within the real estate industry. We will then push out to other states which will do it for professional development just because it is an important area of need,” the agent said.