Women’s Health Matters is developing and piloting a consultation model to support adults in the ACT and region to share their experiences of sexual and gender-based violence.
The purpose of the consultation model is:
• To create channels of communication so that people who have been subjected to sexual and gender-based violence can draw on their experiences to help communities learn more about effectively preventing and responding to violence;
• To help equip key agencies and organisations to hear and act upon information shared by people who have experienced violence; and
• To support people who wish to share their experiences, so that as far as possible this sharing is safe and contributes to their healing.
The ACT Government, through the Office of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence, is funding Women’s Health Matters to develop and pilot a consultation model for lived experience of domestic, family and sexual violence (DFSV) to inform policy.
The development of the consultation model is, in part, prompted by Recommendation 1 of the Listen. Take action to prevent, believe and heal report. This report recommended:
“that the ACT Government establish and appropriately resource an ongoing structured consultation program with victim survivors to continue to drive and inform change in the prevention of and response to sexual violence in the ACT”
The scope of the consultation model has been expanded to include domestic and family violence as well as sexual violence. Women’s Health Matters is currently using the language of “sexual and gender-based violence” to make development of the model as inclusive as possible while encompassing DFSV.
Other jurisdictions have developed consultative mechanisms to enable lived experience to inform policy making and media coverage of DFSV (for example, Victoria’s Victim Survivor Advisory Council and the various Voices for Change media advocacy programs). The ACT’s consultation model is intended to strengthen DFSV responses and prevention programs in the Territory, while learning from these other initiatives.
The Women’s Health Matters project to develop and pilot a consultation model for adult victims/survivors of DFSV will run during 2023 and 2024. WHM expects that an ongoing consultation program will then continue beyond the project period.
What is Women’s Health Matters’ approach to this work?
We recognise the struggles of those who have been subjected to violence and who are still trying to create safety for themselves and their loved ones. We mourn the loss of life resulting from violence, as well as the loss of time, health, opportunities, financial security, enjoyment, relationships and nurturance.
We recognise the longstanding work of organisations and individual people in the ACT, many of whom have faced sexual and gender-based violence themselves, in bringing these issues to prominence. These organisations and individuals have worked hard to support people subjected to violence, to prevent such violence and to help people give voice to their experiences. Our work builds on and is indebted to all of these efforts.
While there are many things that can be improved, the responsibility for violence sits with those who perpetrate, facilitate and excuse it. All people involved with efforts to end violence are responsible for reflecting on how our work supports that goal, and how we might be undermining it.
These are the principles we are following in undertaking this work:
• Approach gender-based violence as cultural and widespread, rather than treating these experiences as exceptions to the norm.
• Encompass multifaceted goals, including benefits for people sharing their experiences as well as benefits for government and other organisations being better-informed and better equipped to hear and act.
• Be trauma informed.
• Recognise intersectionality.
• Do no harm.
• Recognise workers as people with experiences of violence.
• Create time and space for the work.
Please get in touch if you want to know more about what we mean by any of these principles.
Who are we consulting with to develop the model?
Women’s Health Matters will engage with a range of people and organisations to develop the model pilot, including but not limited to the following overlapping groups:
• People who have experienced violence
• Individuals, community organisations and government agencies focused on responding to and preventing gender-based violence
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities*
• Multicultural communities
• LGBTIQ+ communities
• People with disabilities
• Young people
• People experiencing mental illness
* Our engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be undertaken in conjunction with a consultation project being run by Curijo, who have been funded by the Office of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence to consult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the ACT on several issues relating to domestic, family and sexual violence.
What’s next? How to get involved
Women’s Health Matters is getting in touch with people and stakeholder groups (including those noted above) who we think might be interested, to explore options for being involved.
If you are interested in learning more or being involved, you can:
• Subscribe to our email update list, by filling in this short form. We will send updates about the project and more information about how to get involved.
Subscribing to this list does not commit you to participate in the project.
• Email or phone our Senior Health Promotion Officer, Merri, to ask questions or organise a meeting
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Phone: (02) 6290 2164