The Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services (WCDFVS) advises that the COVID 19 pandemic has coincided with the onset or escalation of violence against women in Australia.
The Australian Institute of Criminology (Statistical Bulletin #28 – July 2020) reported that two-thirds of Australian women who have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner said that the violence had started or escalated in the three months prior to the survey (in May 2020).
For women who reported experiencing physical and or sexual violence during July to September 2020, 41.6 % reported they had experienced an episode of being strangled or grabbed around the neck by the perpetrator. This act is a red flag for a high risk of serious harm and death in the future.
The magnitude of gender based violence in PNG is considered to be of epidemic proportions. In a recent study, 68% of women reported having experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
A 2012 study of male perpetration of violence conducted in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, PNG, found that 87.6% of men admitted to physical, emotional and/or economic abuse against their intimate partner.
Gender based violence remains one of the most pervasive human rights concerns in TimorLeste, with almost two out of every three women (15-49 years) reporting having experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
In Timor-Leste, tolerance for gender based violence is high with more than three of four women and men believing a man is justified in physically beating his wife.
Zonta has partnered with the UNFPA to strengthen the health sector in PNG and TImor-Leste so that women and girls, who have experienced violence, can access quality essential services for long-term recovery.
Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Services provides a range of holistic services to women from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds. Ishar empowers women in domestic violence situations to regain control of their lives. Each year Ishar services approximately 1,800 women from over 100 ethnicities making over 50,000 service contacts.
The Zonta Club of Perth has a mentoring program with women from Ishar and over the years have come to have a greater understanding of the difficulties faced by women settling into a new land, learning a new language and also experiencing family violence. It is not easy.
Finding ways to respond safely, appropriately and respectfully, using capacity-building solutions developed in partnership with women of lived experience, enables women to take action in their own and their family’s best interests. Barriers to accessing support are high for women of CaLD backgrounds, so Ishar specialises in providing vital health and support services for women from overseas.
Read the stories of the women like Aisha, who have been empowered through Ishar’s programs and where Ishar is “same as like new house”.
Purple benches, honouring victims of domestic homicide, are appearing in parks and outside community centres. The Purple Bench Project is an initative of the Womens Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services. WCDFVS represents 64 refuges and family violence services in Western Australia.
In a Purple Benchmark by the Western Independent, Ms Oppermann, CEO of Zonta House Refuge said the presence of a purple bench invited people to commemorate those who had lost their lives to family and domestic violence while raising awareness.
“It is about having a place to pay respects, but also to recognise the significance of the number of women and children and men who die because of family and domestic violence every year,” she said.
Domestic Violence Legal Clinic founder at Mossessons Lawyers Shirley McMurdo said the presence of the benches in parks was an important step to increasing community awareness on the issue.
“When people are in a park and they notice a purple bench, they will be curious to know what it’s all about and they will then understand that it actually is a way of highlighting domestic violence as a current issue,” she said.
“The colour purple is well known as the colour that actually represents domestic violence.”
Ms McMurdo said victims often sought help only after suffering a lot of abuse.
“The statistics say that women will leave their husbands seven times before they make the final decision to leave,” she said.
“The issue of domestic violence is so complex and so prevalent in today’s society that the government can always do much more.”
Ms Oppermann said Zonta House Refuge had a future employment connections program and worked with women exiting prison because a high number of them had experienced family and domestic violence.
You must register today on Eventbrite if you would like to join the 30th annual Domestic Violence Silent Memorial March on Friday 27 November.
The free event is held in the Supreme Court Gardens (Cnr Barrack Street and Riverside Drive). It starts at 10am with information stalls, at 11am there is a rally with speakers and at 12 noon the Silent March starts through the city streets.
All attendees must register on Eventbrite so that contact details are available for Covid tracing if required. Masks are encouraged and social distancing will apply.
Remember to RSVP for the Silent March by Thursday 26 November.
The 16 Days in WA to Stop Violence Agains Women starts on 25 November (the International day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and finishes on 10 December (Human Rights Day).
Violence against women is never okay. We all have a responsibility to prevent violence, call it out when we see it and provide support to those affected.
Respect Starts with You is the theme of this year’s Western Australian Government’s 16 Days in WA Stop Violence Against Women campaign.
The statistics below could include you, your partner, your friend, your colleague, or a loved one. Behind every number is a person.
Facts and Statistics:
Almost a third (30% or 125 victims) of all homicide and related offences (including murder, attempted murder and manslaughter) in Australia in 2019 were family and domestic violence related. Western Australia recorded 12 victims.
One in five Western Australian women reported experiencing partner violence since the age of 15.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women account for 67% of hospitalisations due to family and domestic violence in Western Australia.
63% of assaults in Western Australia were family and domestic violence-related in 2019.
The number of family and domestic violence-related victims increased in most Australian jurisdictions between 2018 and 2019. In Western Australia, this number increased by 10% to 19,437 people.
49,198 Police Domestic Violence Incident Reports were triaged in 2019-20. Children were present in 15,832 of these cases.
11,975 family violence restraining orders were lodged in Western Australia in 2018-19, equalling 75% of the total restraining orders filed.
As many as 56% of youth homelessness cases in Western Australia are linked to family and domestic violence.
Family and domestic violence is a leading cause of women’s homelessness.
Domestic violence accounted for 55.8% of the accommodation support from specialist homelessness agencies in WA in 2017-18, up from 45.1% in 2012-13.
Please wear orange during the next 16 days to show your support, promote equality, and show your respect.
Congratulations go to Penny Webb, the Zonta Club of Perth’s Woman of Achievement for 2020. For over 30 years Penny has helped vulnerable people – women escaping family violence, the homeless, the frail, the sick, and the poor. She has worked for innumerable community organisations at home and abroad, in both voluntary and professional capacities. She co-founded Kinwomen.com and is currently the CEO of People Who Care – the parent organisation for Starting Over Support, that helps women leaving refuges to rebuild their lives.
Penny related some of her professional and personal experiences at the November meeting and highlighted the difference we can make to people’s lives when we help each other. Penny urged us to be fearless: to be fearless of letting go of past positions, titles, people not liking us, adversity and obstacles and taking on the new. She said, “Women are phenomenal and it would be incredible if we were fearless together”.
Congratulations Penny on your well-deserved recognition as our Club’s Woman of Achievement 2020!
The Zonta Clubs in Western Australia congratulate Marina Sarkoski on receiving the Zonta WA Women in Business Scholarship for 2020.
Marina is an exceptional student: she is studying for an MBA at Edith Cowan University, recently won the ECU Business and Law Excellence Scholarship, and was the President of the ECU Women in Business student group. She mentors other students and works tirelessly to help young women achieve their potential. Well done Marina!
Over 100 Zontians and friends celebrated Marina’s achievement at the Founders’ Day Lunch event held at the Pullman Resort Bunker Bay near Dunsborough.
Here’s a rewarding opportunity to make a difference to the lives of women.
For the last couple of years, members of the Zonta Club of Perth have mentored/befriended women from Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Services. The program has been so popular that more mentor/friends are needed.
Are you willing to be a friend, listen, laugh, learn, care, help with English, advise on Australian culture and be open to new ideas?
If so, this opportunity may spark joy in your life and give you the satisfaction of knowing that you have done something to help another person settle in a new country.
Download the mentoring flyer for more information.