Dear Friend

Last month I attended a National Roundtable - Responding to Violence against Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Women and their Children on 7 August 2015 in Sydney.

At this National Roundtable the Government launched the pre-departure information pack on Australia’s laws regarding domestic and family violence, sexual assault and forced marriage.  The family safety pack aims to reduce violence against women from CALD backgrounds by providing information about the laws in Australia and women’s right to be safe, to men and women coming to Australia on a partner visa.

The pack includes four factsheets translated into 22 languages, and a low literacy storyboard with pictures and minimal text. Please visit www.dss.gov.au/family-safety-pack   for more information or to download the pack. 

The Roundtable also drew on a recent report on experiences of violence drawn from conversations across Australia with women from over 40 ethnic and cultural backgrounds, Hearing Her Voice report from the kitchen table conversations with culturally and linguistically diverse women on violence against women and their children. You can download the report here.

As members of a Catholic community of faith, I would draw your attention to pp. 36-38 of this report – Building the capacity of community and religious leaders.

“A number of participants felt there is considerable scope for religious leaders to play a greater role in preventing and addressing violence” (p. 38).

I would also highlight the issue of intersectionality of issues for CALD women (see pp. 47-50) especially women with disabilities (p. 49).

Key messages identified were:

  • Gender inequality is a thing of the past;
  • Domestic violence is not a private issue – it is an issue for communities, religious faiths, businesses and workplaces, etc.;
  • Australia is a country with both gender equality and multiculturalism.  It values cultural and linguistic diversity, and also has laws that prohibit domestic and family violence

Some questions for discussion:

  • If the key foundation of domestic violence is gender inequality, as was identified at this Roundtable, can our Church leaders speak with authority and authenticity on this crucial issue when we as a Church have no women episcopal decision-makers or leaders?
  • Could our episcopal leaders be male champions of change on this issue?
  • How can we support and educate our male episcopal and lay leaders so that they can address the issue of domestic violence in their parishes, dioceses and communities?

Violence against women was one of the key issues of concern identified by those who responded to the Women in the Church and Society report we submitted to the Pontifical Council for the Laity earlier this year.  Increasingly, we are hearing leaders in this area say that this problem cannot be tackled just by women. We need the active support of men in solving this problem, the root of which is fundamentally about gender inequity. We all need to work together, women and men, to examine the attitudes, cultures and belief systems that created this inequity. Together, this work will eventually create a safer society for women, men and children alike.

Blessings and peace,

Donella

18 September 2015

Donella Johnston

Director, National Office for the Participation of Women

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