Citizen Zoe

Ipswich Citizen of the Year Zoe Knorre tells Darren Hallesy how she will use the honour to aid mothers affected by addiction and domestic violence.

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Ipswich’s Citizen of the Year for 2022, Zoe Knorre, plans to use the accolade to raise awareness of support for those in the community who need it most.

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Zoe, a clinical psychologist, is the founder of Grace Homestead, the only long-term residential recovery centre in Queensland for mothers affected by addiction and domestic violence, which allows mothers to get help while keeping their children with them.

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“It was such a shock when my name was read out,” she said after the recent Ipswich Australia Day Awards.

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“It’s such a privilege, and I plan to use this to advocate for child protection. We have a lot of cases in Ipswich where we need to provide for families, and I’m honoured to be part of that.”

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Originally from South Australia, Zoe moved here over two decades ago as she had family here. She has lived in the region since then. “I worked in the public sector previously, and could see there was a need for parents living in chaotic situations, who were not wanting to give up their children so they could seek treatment.

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“When they did access treatment without the kids, they go straight back into parenting and that would be a factor in any relapse, so I wanted to set up a program that solved that issue.

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“I also want to address Domestic Violence (DV). When children are going into the child protection system, the top three factors are DV, substance abuse and parental stress.

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“If we’re not addressing all those three factors, then we’re never going to have good outcomes.”

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The Homestead has a good success rate, and Zoe believes that while it is filling a need in the community, governments could still be doing more.

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“It’s not rocket science, but the fact is that organisations are dealing with so many different government departments, including the justice system, the mental health department, child safety, the department for women… it’s a merry go round going from department to department.

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“The issues people face are separated between government departments. We are spending $5.8 billion on child protection and over $20 billion on domestic violence every year… often at shelters where they won’t take women who have drug issues, so where are they supposed to go?”

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While her workload is huge, Zoe admits that if she can get away from work for a bit, her ideal weekend would involve some rock climbing or a trip to Sea World to swim with the sharks.

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“I think what I love most about Ipswich is the people,” Zoe said.

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“I love the sense of community we have here.”

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