The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ recently released Personal Safety Survey* highlighted that around one in six Australian women have experienced partner economic abuse.
It is an alarming statistic that highlights the depth of hardship experienced by domestic violence victims, and something that Zahra Foundation is playing a key role in addressing.
Zahra Foundation Australia launched a three-year, $730,000 partnership with Greater Charitable Foundation in November 2022 to deliver programs to Hunter-based women recovering from domestic and family violence (DFV).
The Pathways to Empowerment program is designed to economically empower women who are rebuilding their lives after leaving domestic and family violence. The program’s first graduates are experiencing life-changing results after completing the seven-week pathways plan.
Conducted in collaboration with Newcastle-based crisis support service provider, Jenny’s Place, the six women have taken critical steps in rebuilding their lives and creating financial independence, ensuring that they and their children need not choose between safety and poverty or homelessness.
Program participant, Sandra**, said her involvement in the program has already set her life on a new and positive path.
“When starting the program I felt isolated and alone, and my self-esteem and self-worth were at its lowest,” Sandra said.
“In just seven weeks I’ve grown in many ways and the trajectory of my life has totally changed. I’ve set attainable goals and now have real hope for my future.
“Learning my rights as a woman and how to set healthy boundaries has been so rewarding and beneficial to my self-growth.
“I now have plans to enrol in study and have made new strong connections with the other participants. Meeting other like-minded women with similar experiences and stories was my favourite part of the program.
“I would loved to have been part of a program like this years ago because it is so valuable and practical. I hope many more women who’ve had similar experiences to me can access this program because they too deserve the opportunity to learn and grow.”
Zahra Foundation Australia Chief Executive Officer, Kelly-Ann Tansley, said she was encouraged by the outcomes of the program’s first intake, which was made possible through the partnership with Greater Charitable Foundation and collaboration with Jenny’s Place.
“If we want to stop violence against women, we must ensure women are not only physically safe, but safe from economic exploitation and coercion. This is the fundamental purpose of the Pathways to Empowerment program,” Kelly-Ann said.
“To have six women complete the first program in the Hunter is a wonderful result, particularly when you hear from our facilitators the positive outcomes each of the women experienced,” Kelly-Ann said.
“During the program we had one woman gain access to supports to complete her work placement, two are enrolling at TAFE, and we also supported one participant to access additional support at TAFE to maintain her education while living with a disability.
“We also had one woman lose her boarding house accommodation during the program, however, due to the support of our facilitators, collaboration with Jenny’s Place Caseworkers, and the empowerment of the program, chose not to surrender to homelessness. Her new-found strength and support enabled her to continue to care for her child and re-enter emergency accommodation.
“These are life-changing results for these women, which could have been very different if not for their participation in the program and support of the team at Jenny’s Place, who have done an incredible job in delivering this program and changing these women’s lives in such a short time.
“Every woman recovering from family and domestic violence should have the opportunity to participate in what is a life-changing program and we look forward to welcoming our next group of program participants this month.”
Greater Charitable Foundation CEO, Anne Long, said she too was incredibly buoyed by the outcomes of the first program and looks forward to providing ongoing support for Zahra Foundation’s work in the Hunter.
“The outcomes for the first group of participants are nothing short of remarkable and aligns perfectly with our strategic focus of improving life outcomes by positively enhancing the financial wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
“This program is critically important to the Hunter Region and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Zahra Foundation to roll out the program to more Hunter women over the next two and a half years.”
* Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2021-22 Personal Safety Survey (PSS)
** Participant’s name has been changed to protect their identity.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or domestic or family violence, support is available via:
1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732
About Zahra Foundation
Zahra Foundation was established in 2015 in honour of Zahra Abrahimzadeh, who was murdered by her estranged husband in 2010. Zahra’s children Arman, Atena and Anita created an organisation to help women escaping abuse gain the skills they need to build a life free from violence.
The Foundation offers a unique empowerment program, specialised financial counselling, one-off grants and skills workshops to help abuse survivors enrol in study, find work and plan their future.
Zahra Foundation relies on the generous support of sponsors, donors, government and community fundraisers to continue this work.