Uneasy viewing, but ‘Safe Home’ is a must-watch

Trending SBS series ‘Safe Home’ is a dramatic portrayal of the often visceral and heart-wrenching experiences of victims of family and domestic violence.

The 4-part series is a confronting watch and requires a trigger warning. Creator Anna Barnes says it is not based on a true story but that “Family violence is so tragically common in Australia, but it’s still something that isn’t discussed openly.” While it is undeniably widespread through our community, the intent to raise social understanding about the issue is clear

As a family lawyer also working in the sector, it was not just the subject material that resonated with me, but the lived experiences portrayed through the characters rang true with the work I do with clients navigating the family law system amid a violent relationship. The complex and multi-faceted nature of family and domestic violence is portrayed in the most accurate manner I have seen on screen to date.

‘Safe Home’ follows a young woman, Phoebe, as she starts a new job as a communications specialist in a community Family Violence Centre. Naïve and idealistic at first, Pheobe is thrust into complexities of advocating for victims of family and domestic violence right from her first day on the job.

Through a diverse cast of supporting characters – ranging from rural housewives, to troubled teens and high-flying lawyers in a commercial law firm – all from vastly different backgrounds, told through the eyes of these characters various forms of family violence, and the fallout from them, are depicted. The brilliance of this program is in its central message that family violence does not discriminate and can affect anyone.

For the most part, awareness of family violence has been on the rise in recent years in Australia. As often happens, our entertainment and media content reflects our realities, while also attempting to raise that awareness and reach broader audiences to effect social change.

The experiences of the protagonist Phoebe illustrate the challenges in our current system of addressing family violence. Those difficulties become apparent as she navigates her new role; engaging with colleagues and lawyers working on the front line in the legal clinic, lobbying external stakeholders to raise funding for drastically under resourced community programs and services, and interacting with victims of family violence.

Safe Home shows that family violence is not a problem that we as a society can address through a single course of action, such as enacting and enforcing legislation to protect victims of family violence. Rather, the series demonstrates that a holistic approach is necessary to raise awareness and protect vulnerable members of society to avoid, escape, and prevent a recurrence of exposure to family violence.

It may be used as a resource to identify some of the community and legal resources available to individuals who may be experiencing family violence as well as portraying different aspects of behaviour that is family violence to improve social understanding of the concept. From financial abuse and control, to physical violence and many other forms in between, the show captures the widespread and insidious nature of family and domestic violence.

If you suspect that you, or someone you care for is experiencing family violence, we encourage you to seek legal advice and support. 1800 Respect provides confidential counselling to victims of family and domestic violence. Skilled legal assistance may be necessary to help you to safely exit a violent relationship, and navigate the separation and divorce process that follows.

At Parker Coles Curtis, we are here for you when you need us. We understand the difficulties faced by victims of family violence and how its presence can impact on you, your relationship and your separation. We look forward to assisting with your matter.

By Cameron Rybinski