Soroptimist projects from SI South West Pacific tackling Violence Against Women and Girls

 

SI Bangsar, Malaysia and the Personal Safety For Children Program TOT

In a friendship link with SI Iskandar Puteri (SIIP) and in partnership with Yayasan Soroptimist Malaysia; Agensi Innovasi Malaysia; Yayasan Raja Zarith Sofiah Negeri Johor

Studies in Malaysia show that Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) cases are on the rise. 80% of the CSA victims know their offenders. CSA happens in all racial, religious and ethnic groups and at all social-economic levels. Effective prevention education for children is crucial to help keep children safe. The SICB Personal Safety For Children programme was developed in 2007, designed to teach young children how to protect themselves and their rights of their body.

In collaboration with SI Iskandar Puteri (SIIP), the Training-of-Trainers (TOT) was organised and the programme was attended by 22 participants, comprising of 8 members of SIIP and 14 volunteers. A comprehensive programme manual and copy of the presentation slides were given to the participants, to help them easily conduct workshops for children within their network after the TOT. By training more trainers to run safety workshops for children, the club hoped to assist in educating, and increasing awareness to reduce CSA.

At the training, many ideas and target groups were identified for implementation of this programme. All agreed that this programme is important in empowering vulnerable children especially in the low-income communities. The club hopes to see more volunteers reach out to their communities to educate parents and children on prevention of CSA.

 

SI Hornsby Inc, New South Wales, Australia – Walk the Talk

 

In a project partnerships with Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Domestic Violence Network; Hornsby Police; Hornsby Shire Council; White Ribbon NSW and Catholic Care, and with the help of a grant of $2,000.00 from the SISWP President’s Walk the Talk funding 2016, Soroptimists sought to raise awareness in the Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai local government area (LGA) on domestic and family violence during the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2016. The theme of the “Walk the Talk” community walk was “Community Against Violence”. Hornsby Ku-ring-gai LGA is recognised as a hot spot for domestic violence by the Bureau of Crime Statistics.

A committee was formed with members from SI Hornsby, Hornsby Police, Hornsby Council and the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Domestic Violence Network and a Facebook page was set up: ‘Stop Violence Against Women – Walk the Talk’ to promote the event, as well as the making of flyers and posters. T-shirts were printed with the logo, and a new banner and a pull-up banner purchased to be used on the day of the Walk the Talk 2016 on Friday 25th November 2016. Local press promoted the event as well.

The club achieved public awareness of the issues of domestic and family violence in the community; local schools were involved to promote respectful relationships and that a change in the culture was required, especially the younger generation. The club involved women from the local Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter, which SI Hornsby supports. The response from the women was extremely positive as they became aware of the local community’s support for domestic violence.

Each year (this year included!)  the club runs the event ‘Walk the Talk’ in Hornsby and the number of participants has increased significantly. The local Police Commander is very supportive, and she gives a speech each year at this event, as well as the local state Member of Parliament, who has walked in the march every year. The club now has support from local schools and has been able to organise talks in three of the schools.

 

SI Brisbane, South Queensland, Australia – Answer the Call

 

In a friendship link with Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ).

The club recognised that greater awareness was required in the wider community of the effects of violence against women and the support which these women need. The requirement for a new Women’s Legal Service Helpline enabling WLSQ to give a more extensive telephone advice line service was identified, particularly in the case of migrant women and women in rural areas. This service would provide free legal advice and counselling to more of the 16,000 women, whose calls for assistance were currently unmet.

In an advocacy role, the club held a public breakfast with influential guest speakers and prominent stakeholders, to provide WLSQ with a platform to outline their role, and highlight the growing demand of its service and its inability to meet these demands, due to the current inadequacy of the Helpline. Importantly, to promote their need for financial support from the Government, business, professional services and the community in general, for a new more extensive Helpline.

The club did extremely well in achieving increased public awareness. Sufficient money was raised to enable a more extensive telephone advice line and the opening of a New Helpline, giving greater access to free legal and welfare support, counselling and referral to information services.

On the first day the helpline saw a 6-fold increase in the number of calls answered and 34 legal appointments were made. 13,000 women and 19,000 children indirectly have been helped in the first 18 months. Feedback was very positive and verbal responses were received after the breakfast – two male lawyers saying: “they had no idea how serious the situation was and the impact it was having on children”. SI Brisbane was given recognition for its advocacy – and was honoured with ‘WLS New Helpline Founding Supporter’ status.

Following the highly successful event, it was decided to promote the expansion of the idea to a nationwide series of Soroptimist breakfasts with prominent activist Rosie Batty as the guest speaker. This took place last year and the funds raised were distributed nation-wide. SI Brisbane will continue their support for WLSQ by holding an annual event due to the identified need still not being met.

 

SI Mandurah, Western Australia, Australia and the Pat Thomas Refuge Home

 

In an ongoing project, SI Mandurah, Western Australia, support the Pat Thomas Refuge Home. The club is involved in many different areas; providing the Home with support required where their current funding does not extend; such as for toiletries, clothing, bedding, and toys. Each year the club participates in a Silent March, where guest speakers speak on Domestic Violence. They also assist at a Christmas lunch; provide pamper packs to the ladies and lounge furniture for a new annex. When clients move on from the refuge, the club provides them with household items. The club sees the importance of supporting those who have been subjected to domestic violence to become independent and renew confidence in themselves. The club has supported 30 women through the project and they receive regular reports from Pat Thomas House.

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