A primary prevention project aimed at increasing awareness of domestic, sexual and family violence in new and emerging communities of South Australia

Community awareness and information about the prevention of domestic violence is increasing. However, language and other barriers mean that this information does not always reach refugee and new arrival communities. At the core of Building Stronger, Safer Communities is a team of community educators--seven men and eight women--with connections to the Syrian, Burmese (Falam and Hakha Chin), Congolese, Iranian, Afghani, Sierra Leonean, Liberian, Eritrean, Afghani (Pashtun), Burundian and Iraqi communities.

The training given to community educators includes recognising and understanding domestic violence as well as ensuring referral pathways to domestic violence services are clear and accessible. The value of the initial training workshops is reflected in participant feedback: "My knowledge about the different types of domestic violence was enhanced, especially learning more about financial and religion abuse,' one participant said. Another noted, "I am now better equipped to respond to disclosed sexual assault or any abuse to members of my community."

The program's flexible and culturally appropriate approach to program delivery saw community educators share their learning in formal and informal ways such as at community gatherings, in conversations with family and friends, or directly to women who have experienced (or are currently experiencing) domestic violence. Twenty-seven community workshops helped reach 267 people.

The project was supported by wide sector engagement. In establishing the project, there were eight working party meetings attended by representatives of 21 organisations working in the domestic violence sector. Feedback from those meetings highlighted the value of those meetings to strengthening the connections and therefore the effectiveness of the sector: "The working party members willingly share information without any reservation, which is fantastic. It helps us all to fully understand all the many issues family domestic violence victims of refugee backgrounds face."

Building Stronger, Safer Communities was funded by the South Australian government through the Department of Premier and Cabinet. While the funding for the project ended in June 2019, there is a strong commitment to maintaining the momentum of the program. ARA is currently seeking donations to support this ground-breaking work ... information on how you can donate and how your donation will be used is available here. As potential funding partnerships are being explored, a working group has been established to ensure that the focus of this important work can be sustained.