According to NSW crime statistics, there were more than 708 domestic violence-related assaults in the Newcastle Region between April 2016 and March 2017. That figure is alarming but Saibre Johnstone from local domestic violence support organisation Jenny’s Place says that the problem is likely to be much larger, as studies show that up to 80% of women who experience domestic violence don’t report it.
There are many initiatives underway, but there is no doubt that there is a need to raise more awareness around the prevalence of the issue, and importantly, how people can support those affected by domestic violence.
Jenny’s Place, a not-for-profit organisation providing outreach, support and crisis accommodation to women and children in the Newcastle, NSW community who are experiencing domestic violence and/or homelessness, is responding to this critical community issue with an innovative, well-researched and ground up approach.
They have identified an opportunity to take domestic violence awareness training into the workplace through a workshop called ‘Healthy Relationships, Positive Communities’ and thanks to a grant from the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, can offer the training free of charge.
It will educate community members about domestic and family violence, the forms it may take, the cycle of violence, the impact of domestic violence, where to go for help, what resources are available and where to go for support, such as to help creating a safety/escape plan.
The sessions work toward prevention of domestic abuse through a targeted community education campaign, providing a comprehensive training package to businesses, groups and educational institutions in the local area.
“Workplaces are an underutilised resource for education and awareness on the issue and a relatively untapped point of support for those that are working and experiencing domestic violence,” explained Ms Johnstone.
“There is a misconception that it only affects the unemployed or those from low socio-economic backgrounds, but research highlighted that two thirds of women that experience violence at home have paid jobs.
“Furthermore, domestic violence doesn’t always stay at home. It can come into workplaces, through unwanted visits and threats via phone calls and text messages. It often affects the business too, through absenteeism, low staff morale and impaired performance,” she explained.
“Through this project, we aim to reach those that experience domestic violence, those that support them and those that employ them. People who use violence can learn from the workshops, those who experience violence can access information about services and help, while employers can better support families. Ultimately, it’s about creating a safer community based on the work that we do with women experiencing domestic violence.”
The training will be flexible and tailored to the organisation. It can be delivered directly to staff, members or students of the organisation, or someone from a workplace can come along and learn how to run the workshop, and take it back into their organisation. This model supports local leadership and enables the participating organisation to lead the change.
Jenny’s Place was one of thirteen community organisations across NSW sharing more than $236,000 in grants from the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal’s Innovation for Community Impact (I4CI) program to support locally-led initiatives addressing pressing social issues.
This project is fully funded by the I4CI program, with a grant of $19,500, funded collaboratively by a number of donors including the Hunter-based nib foundation and Greater Charitable Foundation.
Greater Charitable Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Anne Long, explained why they believe the funding is important.
“Greater Charitable Foundation is supporting the I4CI program because it focuses on grassroots initiatives designed to effect change in local communities. Healthy Relationships, Positive Communities is a great example of a practical program which promotes local leadership around the issue of addressing domestic violence,” Anne said.
nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe, said they were proud to help support the collaborative grant program that is helping make a real difference to the lives of local residents.
“The statistics on domestic violence locally speak for themselves – this is an important conversation that we need to be having. This program provides another opportunity to facilitate these discussions by bringing training to residents in their place of work,” Mrs Tribe said.
Ms Johnstone says that the grant means they can offer this workshop free of charge and as an extension of their everyday operations.
“The funding is very important for the project. It has really helped us make a new space for having open conversation in the community around domestic violence.”
Anyone wanting to know more about the program should contact Jenny’s Place on 02 49296289.