“I will do everything I can to stand up, speak out and act, so that one day my fellow survivors of domestic abuse can wake up with that ray of hope White Ribbon Australia helped me find,” Della, survivor.
It takes courage and a real desire to make a difference to stand before an audience of more than 100 people and share your personal story of domestic abuse.
At yesterday’s #StandUpSpeakOutandAct High Tea to mark the first six months of White Ribbon Australia’s new chapter under the custodianship of Communicare, that’s exactly what Della did.
She shared a story of a controlling, violent husband, who not only physically and sexually assaulted her, but also threatened to have her deported - without her daughter - if she dared go to police. “They won’t believe you,” was his constant mantra.
When she finally ran away after calling triple-zero one night, she did so literally. And when she couldn’t run any further, she curled up into a ball by the side of the road and waited for the police. They came, but her journey was far from over.
As the pain of her abusive relationship became all-consuming, it was the words of her psychologist that sparked her determination for change: “Della, I believe in you!”
This was what Della asked of the audience. “I need everyone in this room to believe us survivors when we tell you need help,” she said.
The High Tea, held at Frasers in Kings Park and sponsored by Westpac, was an opportunity to unravel what this new chapter in the history of White Ribbon Australia will look like.
Aunty Milly Penny (Walley) provided a Welcome to Country and also paid a personal tribute to her friend and former CEO of the Women’s Council for Domestic & Family Violence – WA, Angela Hartwig, who passed away yesterday after 25 years at the helm.
Leading proceedings, Communicare Chairperson, The Hon. Jim McGinty described the acquisition of White Ribbon Australia as “an adventurous step forward”, taking on a high-profile brand on a national scale.
Special guest, The Hon. Simone McGurk MLA, welcomed the new chapter of White Ribbon Australia and outlined the State Government’s family domestic violence initiatives.
“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, but there’s more to do… Government can’t do this alone, it takes all of us across the community,” she said.
Minister McGurk urged the room to take strength from Della’s story of survival and the dedication of Angela Hartwig, when tackling the hard work ahead.
White Ribbon Australia Chief Executive Brad Chilcott gave an impassioned account of the movement’s achievements over the first six months and outlined what the future holds for 2021 and beyond.
“I thank Communicare and its Board for taking the incredibly brave and visionary step of acquiring White Ribbon Australia and going on this journey to guide this important national movement,” he said.
“I believe that Communicare’s 20-plus year history of providing women’s safety services and men’s behaviour change programs is an important element of this new chapter for White Ribbon Australia – there’s an intrinsic, built-in connection that I think is invaluable.
“Re-establishing trust and the scale of culture change required to build a movement that will be effective in the task of engaging men, boys and the whole Australian community in eliminating men’s violence against women should not be underestimated.
“I look forward to working alongside all of you as together we create an Australia where every woman is free from all forms of men’s violence and abuse,” he concluded.
Mr Chilcott urged everyone in the room to take away four key actions from the event, working together community by community, workplace by workplace, to bring about real and lasting change.
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