Respect Champion: Nipuni Wijewickrema

1 June 2015

Zoya Patel

Zoya is the Senior Manager of Corporate Relations and Communication at YWCA Canberra.

Nipuni Wijiewickrema headshotAs part of YWCA Canberra’s Respect NOW campaign, over the coming weeks we’ll unveil our passionate Respect Champions. These wonderful women are helping us further our advocacy efforts, calling on the ACT Government to prioritise funding for primary prevention and early intervention programs, to end violence against women. To support the Respect NOW campaign, please sign our online petition and share it with your family and friends.

Meet one of our Respect Champions, Nipuni Wijewickrema.

Nip is a passionate and driven 22-year-old Canberra girl who’s trying to change the world, one flower at a time. Together with her family, Nip helped establish GG’s Flowers – a socially sustainable florist that only employs people with special needs. The business was made for Nip’s beautiful sister, Gayana – a 16 year old girl with Down Syndrome that loves hugs and flowers. In her limited spare time, Nip volunteers as a crisis counsellor for Lifeline Canberra. Nip was named Young Canberra Citizen of the Year for her contribution to the community.

Describe yourself in 30 words or less.

Just your average 22-year-old girl trying to change the lives of those with special needs, one flower, smile and cuddle at a time. 

Tell us why you signed up to become a Respect Champion?

I think respect is one of the most important words we will ever be taught in our lives. I truly believe being able to respect others and being respected, both personally and professionally are important to any person’s life – woman or man. 

I am incredibly honoured to be asked to be a respect champion as it entails everything I stand for. I think all relationships should be respectful and the moment you don’t feel respected – you should feel the empowerment and strength to change the situation. 

Young people are the leaders of the future – so ensuring they are well equipped to be able to identify respectful and disrespectful relationships is paramount. 

Why do you think we need more action from governments to prevent violence against women?

There’s nothing happy or positive about violence against women. If there is something we as a community, and the government as a higher authority can do to prevent violence against women – it needs to be done. You can’t sit back and hope for the best when it comes to social issues like this – we have to grab it by the horns and deal with it. If we don’t – who will?

Funding the frontline and ensuring violence against women is something that’s stamped out within communities worldwide, is an important vision to have. 

What action would you like our readers to take right now to help end violence against women?

I think it’s about accepting. Accepting that violence against is not normal and it will never be acceptable. After that it’s about accepting something has to be done. No matter who you are – you can do something about it. Speaking out openly, ensuring those around you understand and support you in your stance to end violence against women is always a great step. As a young person – I see that we’re the leaders of the future. It’s now or ever. We seriously only live once. Let’s get going and work together to end violence against women. 

Watch the video below to hear why Nip is passionate about ending violence in our community!

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