Being part of a new story

alison overeem

I was honoured to be part of a strong Tasmanian delegation invited to attend the Council of Australian Government (COAG) National Summit to Reduce Violence against Women and Children in Adelaide recently.

The purpose of the summit was to provide advice and direction on the COAG fourth Family Violence Action Plan.

At Leprena, the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) centre in Hobart, we have run a small but very successful family violence prevention program around the stories of survival, and the impact on women and children exposed to family violence.

Through the work of UAICC Tasmania I was able to be part of the team representing Tasmania and representing the voice of First Peoples.

The summit challenged me to consider how do we, as communities of faith, work together across this nation, to build communities of hope and safety for our First People, in a culturally inclusive and holistic way that brings sustainable change?

What are the resources we can use to support our women, children, and men, unpacking the impact of colonisation and intergenerational trauma?

On the second day of the summit I was humbled and proud to stand with my First Peoples brothers and sisters from across the nation, to be part of the reading of a statement from First People’s ethos.

This was intended to help form the fourth National Action plan through the lens of First Peoples.

I was proud to stand with our mob echoing our voice, echoing the need for programs in prevention and response to be culturally safe, culturally driven and culturally relevant. 

We seek to unpack the impacts of colonisation on our people, look honestly at behaviours, respond though a cultural lens and open up the conversations to develop programs to support our women, our children and to engage and bring our men on the journey with us.

We do not just want to prevent violence against women and their children in our current context, we want to be part of the new story that stops violence against women and children.

Through our work on awareness, prevention and response I am excited to see what we can embed in the life of our UAICC families across the Nation of First Peoples and in our UCA families across the nation.

That domestic violence affects many more families than you might suspect is a strong message in a Crosslight feature this month.

Tackling cultural causes of domestic violence was also a theme of UCA President Deidre Palmer’s recent travels in the Pacific, where you can also read about the inspiring UnitingWomen conference held recently in Brisbane.

You can read about how migrant, asylum seeker and refugee women are being empowered to set up their own businesses. Find out how you can also support the work Uniting Vic.Tas agencies are doing to help asylum seekers here

Alison Overeem is Leprena Centre manager.

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