Sunday, 24 July 2011

Why I'm going to Nepal

In September, I am travelling to Nepal with Australia's CEO Challenge.   I will be trekking and also working with local women, who are single, illiterate and dreadfully poor. I will be paying my own way there.
 
I thought that by going to Nepal I could help survivors of domestic violence- both in Nepal, and by fundraising and raising awareness, back here in Australia. I have now been helping survivors of domestic violence since 1985, which I must say seems to be a very long time ago. In Queensland, my home State, back then there was no domestic violence legislation. It seems hard to credit it, as the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act has been a part of the landscape for so long, but back then it didn't exist. It required an inquiry, initiated by the then National Party government (remember that this was pre-Fitzgerald), about domestic violence to give a clear recommendation for legislation, before that legislation was enacted. Over that time, I have acted for thousands of survivors of domestic violence.

The effects of domestic violence are devastating, and can last forever, permanently scarring someone's mind with awful thoughts. Even worse, the actions of domestic violence can at the most extremem lead to family homicides- the types we have seen too often of the murder/suicides, or even the battered woman in an act of desperation killing her tormenter. I have come to learn over those many years that regrettably, domestic violence isn't caused by alcohol or drugs (though there can be astrong correlation), it isn't confined to one race or type of people (though it is more common with the less wealthy), and neither sex has a monopoly of good or evil.

As a family lawyer, I have acted in cases where the man has been violent, where the woman has been violent to her husband, where a gay man or a lesbian has been violent to their partner, and even one case involving a lesbian/transgender relationship. Despite all those types of domestic violence, the most common type is that of men towards their women. Luckily our society has greatly improved its response towards doemstic violence for the benefit of survivors of violence, but there is much more to be done.

That is why I am Deputy Chair of Australia's CEO Challenge and why I am going on the trek. I have been involved as a partner or director with Australia's CEO Challenge for the last 10 years. I did so because this tiny charity, that knows how to stretch a buck like virtually no one else, helps survivors of violence. It does this in three ways:

1. It partners businesses with refuges. 
Australia's CEO Challenge is the only charity in the country that does so. it is unique. Suddenly businesses are helping with refuges, by offering mentoring, and fundraising or provision of supplies. There are few things more satisfying to me than going to a refuge and hearing from women who stayed there about how Brisbane City Council (which was a partner of that refuge)supplied and installed play equipment, enabling the kids staying there, to do what kids do best- to play, and relax. When I heard that story, I thought: "In my own little way, I helped that happen. i made a difference to the lives of those women and children."

2. Australia's CEO Challenge provides workplace training about workplace bullying, and the correlation between those people and those people often being perpetrators of domestic violence.

3. With a small amount of money from the Queensland Government ($20,000 a year over 3 years), Australia's CEO Challenge co-ordinates White Ribbon Day events in Queensland. 25th November each year is White Ribbon Day, or as it is otherwise called the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Naturally, I prefer to call it White Ribbon Day, as it is less of a mouthful. Events highlight the fight against domestic violence and the community, especially men, saying that they will not commit domestic violence, will not condone domestic violence, and will not be silent about domestic violence. I am going to Nepal to help there, and also to help raise money for Australia's CEO Challenge here. Please donate. If you can help by donating, your help is greatly appreciated. You can donate here: Little Stevie Helps End Domestic Violence .If you can help in any other way, such as partnering a refuge, or helping to end domestic violence, email me: lilstevieconquersDV@gmail.com or call me: 07 3221 9544.

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