A Community Driven Approach to Violence Prevention with an Aboriginal Community

October 17, 2016

Mrs Mel Ewers is the Regional Programs Support and Development Manager at the Australian Red Cross and joins us at the upcoming STOP Domestic Violence Conference in Brisbane on the topic of ‘Before the Harm – A Community Driven Approach to Violence Prevention with an Aboriginal Community’.

Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to identify and drive their own solutions to their own priority issues, including family and domestic violence, is fundamental to the way Red Cross is working with the Aboriginal community in Kwinana WA.

The City of Kwinana is a rapidly growing area situated 30km south of Perth and experiences higher than State average levels of unemployment, children in welfare-dependent/other low income families and associated poor health outcomes.  Kwinana has a significant Aboriginal population that experiences disproportionate disadvantages, but also has a strong network of Elders and community members who help keep the community strong in the face of this adversity.

Red Cross has been delivering the Before the Harm Violence Prevention Project in Kwinana since 2015. This two year project provides education and community capacity building activities to respond to factors known to increase family and community violence and aims to create safer, healthier environments for Aboriginal children, families and communities. The project includes the delivery of Red Cross’ Before the Harm (BTH) program workshops and tools with the local community, as well as with service providers. BTH was adapted from the RespectED training series, which was originally developed by Canadian Red Cross over 20 years ago and used or adapted internationally by more than 42 countries, including Australia.

The project also works with a range of stakeholders to develop and deliver community-led violence prevention activities, raise awareness of the impacts of violence and take positive steps towards reducing incidences of violence. Through the delivery of this project to date, we have identified a number of challenges and critical success factors that can form valuable learnings for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations seeking to support communities to address family and domestic violence.

Mel Ewers has more than 10 years’ experience scoping, developing, delivering and evaluating programs in the Education and Community Service sectors. She has managed a variety of national and local projects for young people and their families, including working with new and emerging and Aboriginal communities. She has managed research centres and worked as a researcher/evaluator. She has Bachelor of Education, and Post Grad Certificates in both Program Evaluation from the Project Management.

The 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference will be held on 5 – 7 December at the Mercure Brisbane, QLD. For more information on the conference and to secure your registration, please visit the conference website.

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