Leading from the front—A crusade against domestic violence


SHAMSHIR—A Human Rights Campaign, hosted ‘The Dark Discussion’, South Australia’s only conference focused on stamping out domestic violence and honour killing

The Dark Discussion—organised by SHAMSHIR—a human rights campaign that took place in Adelaide on 24 August offered a platform on fostering an integrated approach to end domestic violence and honour killing.

With Shamshir’s successful efforts to address taboo topics, at the state level we’re seeing more and more examples of coordination and collaboration.

Saru Rana, CEO of Shamshir, the peak body for the conference that ran a crusade against domestic violence and honour killing, provided a practical guide in her speech “to obliterate the idea that domestic violence is an abstract concept that only afflicts a certain type of person, and in doing so we can lead the society from a blissful ignorance to critical awareness, hoping for a better change”.

Networking the grassroots domestic violence and honour killing movement from across Australia to India, this conference was one of the many initiatives by Shamshir, the others being the Dark Campaign against Sexual Assault, Mini Me Project for kids’ awareness against abuse and bullying, WOW—Women of the World empowering the unsung heroes, Redefining Divas against body shaming and Open Shutters a photo competition addressing taboo topics.

‘The Dark Discussion’, a campaign to raise community awareness about domestic violence and honour killing, was aimed at reflecting on the damage that these social evils have on not only women but also men, children, families and also the community as a whole.

This conference featured influential presenters who are bringing about change among individuals, community-based groups, and government agencies.

Katrine Hildyard MP, Shadow Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing, Multicultural Affairs and the Status of Women spoke on women’s empowerment in the mainstream and CALD communities, while speaker and author Mr Derrick McManus spoke on Human Durability—going beyond resilience to sustaining optimum performance and on the role of men in preventing violence against women.

Other speakers included author of ‘Shamed’, Sarbjit Athwal, a survivor of honour based violence, a former police community support officer, and the CEO of True Founder from the UK, and Mr Shaun Osborn, a detective with the SA Police who addressed the gathering on forensics, law and legalities around domestic violence.

Mr David Evans OAM, a retired medical pathologist and sexual health physician, and the author of ‘Love and Honour’, and consultant psychiatrist and advisor, White Ribbon CALD Reference Group, Dr Manjula O’Connor also spoke at the event.

The eminent speakers were handed a token of gratitude by special guests whose contributions to the community are highly regarded. The list included Mr Deepak Bhardwaj, Mrs Harminder Sroa, Mr George Fomba, Mr Joseph Masika and Mrs Ning Zhang.

The emcee for the Dark Discussion was Dr Sumbo Ndi, a former academic, researcher and lecturer at the University of South Australia, who has served in various capacities on a number of boards and committees and is the winner of the Governor’s Multicultural Award (Community Sector, individual category) in 2013.

The ultimate goal of this progressive and formative conference is to become a platform to effectively communicate to the masses that domestic violence and honour killing is an alarming issue and concerns everybody and not just an individual. This is a dilemma that the whole of the Australian community must confront.

An extensive array of participating organisations including women’s shelters, women’s centres, Migration Resource Centre, Australian Refugee Association ARA, family therapists, restorative justice facilitators, probation officers, police, crown prosecutors, judges, victim services officers, children mental health workers, child protection workers, addiction counsellors, health care workers, clergy, educators and others were present.

A gathering of likeminded people, including White Ribbon ambassadors, advocates and leaders representing various ethnic groups carrying individual cultural practices and belief against domestic and family violence will provide an opportunity for productive networking, said Ms Rana.

The conference focused on convening a multi-disciplinary audience to build broader opportunities for justice and healing for survivors of trauma.


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