SURVIVORS CHANGE THE NARRATIVE ON DOMESTIC & FAMILY VIOLENCE FOR IWD

7 March 2019

A new program to change the community narrative on domestic and family violence has been launched in Canberra to mark International Women’s Day 2019 (IWD).

Voices for Change is a media advocacy program developed by national violence prevention agency Our Watch for women who have been subjected to violence to share their stories with the public and the media in a safe way that challenges the drivers of violence against women.

This ACT first is a partnership between Domestic Violence Crisis Service and YWCA Canberra, who have been working with the six Advocates since last year to empower participants to speak confidently and with purpose to the community and media about violence against women and controlling relationships.

Advocates will raise awareness, talk about prevalence, let other women know what help is available locally, explain why it is not always easy to leave or get away from the abuse, and help the community understand what they can do to prevent violence against women.

DVCS Chief Executive Officer Mirjana Wilson said DVCS are pleased to be launching Voices for Change with YWCA Canberra. “We’ve had clients asking to participate in something like this for a while, and we know media want to engage with women with lived experience. We are looking forward to keeping this discussion going in the public arena.
We know the Advocates are strong, passionate and keen to talk about their experiences, thoughts and learnings in a safe and appropriate environment. It is important their voices are heard and we are proud to be able to facilitate that platform” said Ms Wilson.

YWCA Canberra Chief Executive Officer Frances Crimmins said the way the media reports on violence against women impacts how gender-based violence is responded to by the broader community, and that improving community understanding and action in this area was a priority for YWCA Canberra.

“The Voices for Change program has been a fantastic opportunity to support people with lived experience to play a role in advocating on this critical issue. We’re in awe of the courage of these women in sharing their personal stories and are confident their training will support them to influence how Canberra thinks about primary prevention” Ms Crimmins said.

Six women have completed the program and will feature in media stories throughout the week of IWD. The Voices for Change program will be formally launched at an International Women’s Day morning tea for stakeholders at the Legislative Assembly on 6 March. The event will be the first time a short film featuring the advocates is screened, followed by a panel with the advocates hosted by journalist Genevieve Jacobs.

Domestic and family violence continues to be common in Australia – from the age of 15 years, 1 in 6 women experience violence at the hands of a partner, with intimate partner violence the greatest health risk factor for women aged 25-44.

Media contacts: Helen Machalias (YWCA Canberra) 0455 655 330 & Alanna Davis (DVCS) 0402 073 957

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