Young mum leading the fight for a safe Isa

STEPH King may be young, but she's achieving goals as a strong advocate against domestic violence in the Mount Isa community.

She's been sent away to represent the North West as an Indigenous ambassador, was the first person in her family to complete university and up until having a baby earlier this year, was heavily involved with organisations such as Oxfam as part of a global network of young people achieving great things in their communities.

She now spends time as a board member for the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS).

As the only representative on the board for the North West, it's her job to make sure the rest of the state's team know we need the service out here.

QIFVLS was in trouble earlier this year due to a serious decline in client numbers, but a huge push and awareness campaign had led to an almost tripling in support at the local office.

Ms King was elected to the board in December of 2011 after being nominated for her work in the community, at the time at Mount Isa's Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH).

And having also been involved with the boards of Young People Ahead and Gidgee Healing and as a safe communities officer, she's had plenty of time to get to know the needs and wants of different demographics of the Mount Isa community.

"From a personal perspective as well as work I've seen friends and family go through that cycle being affected by domestic violence, and it's something that impacts across the board from children and young people to those who are married or just in a relationship, and even seniors.

"It's just about making the community aware we have a service available where people can be supported."

She said having grown up and attended school in Mount Isa, the attitude toward domestic violence in the North West was too slanted toward acceptance.

"There's this idea that it's normal behaviour and it's not and it's not okay," she said.

"Our region has the highest rates (of domestic violence of all the QIFVLS offices), which includes not just physical violence but emotional, financial and even spiritual too."

Ms King is currently on maternity leave from her research assistant position with MICRRH, and said having three-month-old Franklin at home further solidified her passion for keeping local families safe.

"People have got to start leading by example, she said.

"For such a long time we (QIFVLS) had very low numbers because people weren't accessing the service, it's not like it wasn't needed, people just weren't engaging.

"There are a lot of domestic violence cases out here though and a high need for us to stay in operation for those victims to get the help they need."

Mount Isa will host the next QIFVLS board meeting next month as their first locally this year, allowing Ms King to speak with representatives from offices in Townsville, Cairns and Rockhampton among others about what the city and Gulf communities need to go forward with the service.

"It's a good chance for them to meet with our staff and see the service to get a bit of an understanding how we work out here different to how they work," she said.

"We really need this service to stay in Mount Isa so it'll be really good to hear how Mount Isa's tracking and get some tips on how we could better our structure or services."

Ms King will return to work at MICRRH in December after some much-deserved time with little Franklin, and will no doubt be back to making a splash in the community.

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