Penda: An App for Sufferers of Domestic and Family Violence

Penda, a new smart phone app recently launched by the Women’s Legal Service, Queensland, provides women with a variety of useful information and resources to help navigate a domestically violent relationship, and all of the flow-on effects that may come with it.

The app is free to download from the iTunes store, and despite being content-heavy, it is very user friendly. Information that users can access includes the following:

  • General safety information, including tips to develop a safety plan for you and your children;
  • Legal information, including how to obtain a Protection Order in any state or territory;
  • Financial information, including suggestions of ways to “break the cycle” and move on from a violent relationship whilst protecting yourself financially; and
  • Referrals to services such as Emergency Money, Centrelink Crisis Payments, Child Support, visa and immigration services, counselling services, housing assistance and property settlement information.

There is a particular focus on financial assistance throughout the app, and understandably so given that one of the main reasons why women remain with violent partners is because they cannot afford to leave. Financial abuse is a common way that violent partners exert control over their spouse, and many people are unaware of the fact that the element of control can itself constitute domestic violence.

The developers of the app seem to have covered all bases, and have even included mechanisms within the app which enable users to be discrete whilst using it, particularly if their partner monitors or has access to their phone. These include the following:

  • Warnings before following links to web pages to remind users that the page will be visible in their browser history. To address this, there is an icon on each page within the app which allows the user to print the page, or email it to a safe email address.
  • There is an icon that users can tap from any screen within the app that turns the app into a game. This is useful if it is necessary to change the screen on short notice, with the added perk of a (very addictive) game.

The app is culturally and linguistically inclusive, including links to free translating and interpreting services, disability services, and LGBTI services. If you fall within either of the following categories, this app may be of use to you:

  • If you have recently separated from your partner, are planning to separate, or feel unsafe in your relationship; or
  • If you are a friend, family member or support person of someone to whom (a) applies. You can pass information from the app on to that person if it is unsafe or impractical for them to use the app themselves.

Although this particular app is aimed at women, there is also assistance available for men and other sufferers of Domestic and Family Violence- call 1800 RESPECT.

If you are suffering from Domestic and Family Violence or require assistance with any other family law matters, please contact a member of the Family Law Team at McLaughlins Lawyers.  

Author: Shona Sahay

Director: Sophie Pearson

Date: 13/10/2017