Real estate agents and property managers will soon be able to complete an online course to help them recognise the signs of domestic and family violence (DFV) and also understand how they can assist victims.
Solutions Property Management and Q Shelter have secured funding from the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General for the course, which is due to launch in July 2023.
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland is also supporting the program.
Solutions Property Management Principal and REIQ Board Director Laura Valenti said the e-learning, self-paced course would be free and take agents through a step-by-step learning experience featuring real-life case studies and practical solutions.
She said real estate agents, particularly property managers, had a unique window into people’s personal lives.
“We’re often privy to incidents that occur behind closed doors and can be the first people in a position to recognise signs of domestic family violence,” she said.
“When we’re doing our inspections we have to, by law, go into every single room, so we might see things that nobody else sees.
“That’s a position of power and responsibility.”
Ms Valenti said the course, which will be available and suitable for agents in all states, would not only help agents recognise the signs of DFV but enable them to know what to do next.
“First it’s about recognition, then it’s about response,” she said.
“Some people’s first response is, ‘I have to call the police’. But you don’t do that unless there’s imminent danger because you’re interfering in something that could become volatile.
“They are treading a really thin line and they’re keeping the peace with their actions, so if someone goes in there and upsets that, they (the perpetrator) might fly off the handle.”
Ms Valenti said it’s better to discreetly offer assistance to the victim and let them know your agency is a “safe space” they could come to for help, whether that be pointing them in the right direction of additional services or helping them find a new, safe, rental property.
“If we can mobilise every real estate agent in the whole of Queensland, and there’s thousands of us, to look for and recognise the signs and then point victims in the right direction, how amazing would that be,” she said.
Ms Valenti said she hoped that once Mandatory CPD was introduced in Queensland, the course could be included as accredited training.
“The support from the Queensland Government goes beyond the financial,” she said.
“It shows they recognise the real estate industry is a vital part of the solution to DFV and genuinely value the steps the industry is taking to address it.”
A long-time advocate for DFV survivors, Ms Valenti and her husband have also founded the not-for-profit SafeHome Alliance and she believes the real estate industry can play a major role in helping survivors.
This commitment led to Solutions Property Management receiving the Contribution to the Community Award at the 2022 REIQ Awards at the end of last month.
“Together we can create lasting change for the better,” Ms Valenti said.
“Everyone deserves a safe place to call home.”