A university-backed community initiative to protect indigenous women from domestic violence has been given a boost in the form of a grant worth $146,961.
University of NSW Research Fellow Dr Aryati Yashadhana said the grant project would empower the Wirringaa-baa Aboriginal women's group to start up and run a culturally-centred safe space in Tamworth.
"The grant will make a real impact to Aboriginal women experiencing family violence in Tamworth, and may even reduce instances of family violence through culturally safe prevention approaches," she said.
Dr Yashadhana said the project will be an important step to ending family violence across Australia, and that it's important to conduct in Tamworth as the city has the fourth-highest rate of family violence in NSW.
"The research aspect will be looking at evaluating Wirringaa-baa's approaches as they implement them over the next two years," she said.
"Through this project we're trying to understand a broader model that might be replicated across NSW and across the nation. The women already fulfil their roles in their community, it's more about supporting them to fulfil those roles," Dr Yashadhana said.
Gamilaraay woman and facilitator of the Wirringaa-baa Michelle O'Leary said family violence has been a long-standing issue for her community.
"This project is personally important to me as I lived through 10 years of family violence and was one of the lucky ones who survived. I still, to this day, see the same problems," she said.
Ms O'Leary said she's aware of other local programs' efforts to protect women, but that a more culturally-tailored approach could do more to protect women from marginalised communities.
"I know there are services in Tamworth for this, but it just doesn't work for our people. Our mob need people they trust to try and fix this problem," she said.
"I truly believe through this project we will make change, by lifting up women who live in the heart of our community and helping empower them to help other women in need," Ms O'Leary said.
The grant comes courtesy of the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation (NPCF), a charity fund set up by a Newcastle-based financial services company.
NPCF Chair, Jennifer Leslie, said the project will make an important difference to the New England community.
"Here in New England the Wirringaa-baa project will empower indigenous women and enhance cultural resilience," she said.
She said the Wirringaa-baa will use the funds to support the delivery of projects and initiatives aimed at improving the health and social wellbeing of vulnerable and disadvantaged people in New England.
Wirringaa-baa thanked Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for their support.
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