DV: Myer and Salvation Army launch registry to help women rebuild

August 1, 2016
DV: Myer and Salvation Army launch registry to help women

DV: How will a toaster help tackle domestic violence? It’s all about assisting a woman escaping violence rebuild her life.

When Renee* left her abusive partner with five children under 13, she didn’t even have shoes. “When you leave, 90 per cent is the practical side of it,” she said. “Where are you going to live, how are you going to get the kids to school, what are you going to feed them, where am I going to sleep tonight?” as reported by Melissa Singer.

She said family and friends could provide “one-night fixes” but, in the long-term, women and their children needed practical help to physically rebuild.

The Give Registry is a list of 30 items, ranging from $11 baby socks to a $380 microwave, the Salvation Army has identified as most crucial for women in crisis accommodation.

Myer will match, item for item, each donation made by its customers. In one year, the Salvos need about 10,000 of these items, which roughly equals $500,000 in customer contributions.

Myer chief executive Richard Umbers said the program followed a review of the company’s philanthropic programs.

“We used to support everything but if you’re not careful you don’t make a meaningful difference anywhere,” he said.

The company now centres its charitable efforts, which total more than $2 million a year, on “supporting and empowering women and strengthening families”.

“The safe way to do [charity] is just give some money … In some ways large corporations get off the hook easily by just quoting a dollar number. What’s much more powerful is saying how much difference did you make,” he said.

Myer and the Salvation Army have a longstanding partnership that has raised millions for the latter over several decades.

Mr Umbers said the Give Registry was adding a layer he hoped will add some emotion back to charitable giving.

“We’re not trying to solve domestic violence by giving a set of plates. We are trying to solve it by raising a level of awareness that we could never have achieved through a conventional corporate relationship.”

He acknowledges that “some people will throw rocks” about the value of Myer’s contribution.

DV and raising awareness

“We are better placed to make a difference in this area than any other. We can make a difference to cancer research but it’s just dollars, and you don’t get a chance to take the customer with you. This is something that has an edge to it. It’s complex, it’s uncomfortable … and in many ways, that’s what makes it right.”

Myer has also partnered with White Ribbon – Mr Umbers is an ambassador for the organisation – and Global Sisters, which helps domestic violence survivors re-establish their financial independence.

He said society was slowly edging towards a place where domestic violence was unacceptable but incidents such as the Eddie McGuire slur against journalist Caroline Wilson last month was proof that casual references to violence against women were still “part of the banter of life”.

Last year, Myer introduced domestic violence leave for its 12,000-person workforce, which is about 80 per cent women. To read more click here.

The 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference; Providing the Skills for Change will be held on 5 – 7 December at the Mercure Hotel in Brisbane. To register for the Conference CLICK HERE.

Authors or organisations interested in presenting at the 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference are invited to submit an abstract. To submit an abstract CLICK HERE. Abstracts close 22nd August 2016.

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