Shire agents unite against domestic violence

Real estate agents are in the business of selling the dream of a happy home. But, for some families, home is not a happy or safe place. The demand for support services in domestic violence cases has prompted business owners in the Sutherland Shire to join together and commit to the fight. One of these businesses has been Highland Property Agents, led by Principal David Highland.

Prompting this action was a surge in referrals from a local family support organisation, The Sutherland Shire Family Services (SSFS). Staff are currently working with more than 175 families at any one time, with many more on their wait list. This demand for help has led them to the ‘Unlock Program’ which seeks to raise funds for families and children impacted by domestic violence. Under this unique program, local real estate businesses will commit to a monthly donation to support SSFS. Highland Property Agents are committed to donating $500 per month and are ambassadors for the cause.

“We live in a high net worth area and you don’t think these things happen, but they do,” Mr Highland said.

“I think it’s a key issue that affects a number of local Sutherland Shire families. You wouldn’t realise how deep it goes. It’s not just physical abuse, but mental and psychological as well. It has knock-on effects to kids. I’m a father to a young family and it hits a nerve for me. If I can pull my resources and network to put a spotlight on this issue then that’s what I want to contribute to the cause and get my peers on board, because it is a really relevant issue.”

Last Friday, SSFS supporters Highland joined Ben Fairfax from Capital Bluestone, Chris Ryan from PAYCE, Sutherland Shire mayor Carmelo Pesce and director of Shire Planning at Sutherland Shire Council Peter Barber for a think-tank on where the property market in the Shire is heading; including the need to understand that to build communities means more than just building houses.

“We had a combined discussion on what is happening in the property market and we talked about how the area is changing,” Mr Highland said.

“Then we looked back into the reason as to why we were there and we would like to see our peers come together to support a local cause. Domestic violence and real estate are deeply connected issues. With family violence comes issues of homelessness along with housing issues.”

SSFS Chief Executive Officer Diane Manns said the Unlock Program was designed to create broad awareness.

“Many women and children live in fear every day and need support services like those provided by us, such as individual casework, crisis safety planning and therapeutic programs to help them heal from that trauma,” Ms Manns said.

Sutherland Shire Family Services is a not-for-profit community organisation based at Jannali which has been supporting families in the Sutherland Shire for 30 years.

To get involved, visit


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Azal Khan

Azal Khan was a in-house features writer for Elite Agent Magazine.