About one in five Australian women has experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner (ABS, 2013) and the global problem of human trafficking is also occurring in Australia.
The Catholic Women’s League Australia (CWLA) will hold its 47th National Biennial Conference from 22-24 September at the Novotel, Parramatta.
The CWLA strives to be a ‘voice for the voiceless’ and at national, state and local levels, speaks out about issues such as violence against women and children, human trafficking, adoption, poverty, gambling, prostitution, and pornography.
This month’s conference will focus on domestic violence and human trafficking and the need for greater education, strategies to overcome abuse and a renewal of hope around these issues.
Gladys Meaney-Budd, a representative from the CWL in Parramatta, supports the belief that education is at the heart of positive change.
“We are going to address this sad situation in our society by learning more of how we can support the victims of these crimes,” Gladys said.
“Our education will be further enhanced. We will have more information and strategies to combat these evils in our society, remembering the words of the Holy Father, ‘Open our ears to hear God’s word.’”
Domestic violence can have dire consequences on the family unit. The World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations (WUCWO) has launched a ‘campaign for the enhancement of the family’ to address these impacts.
Gladys said domestic violence cannot be tolerated if a family is to live a normal life. “There has to be tolerance and understanding, and when this is not there, a family is always in disarray,” she said.
“Domestic violence is not always physical. Many times, one member can be controlling and lack any understanding of the damage being done.”
Pru Goward MP, State Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, will be a keynote speaker.
“It is a great privilege to have Pru Goward with us on this occasion, and it is hoped in her address she will be able to give hope and perhaps some solace where that need exists,” Gladys said.
Sr Hilda Scott OBE, a Benedictine Sister from the monastery at Jamberoo, will also speak at the conference. Other speakers include: Pat McDermott, Australian Women’s Weekly columnist of more than 30 years; Jennifer Burn from the Faculty of Law University of Technology; and Ken Smith OAM, historian from the Parramatta Historical Society.
Jennifer Burn, director of Anti-Slavery Australia, will speak about human trafficking in Australia.
The ‘Child not Bride’ campaign was launched in February this year and both Jennifer Burn and Pru Goward spoke, focusing on young women and community leaders from multicultural communities.
This campaign has been supported by fact sheets translated into Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Nepalese and Hindi. “This signifies the spread and range of growth in the community in general and the Parramatta area in particular in recent years,” Gladys said.
Both women and men are welcome to attend the conference. “We would encourage anyone to attend, especially those interested in, and wanting to learn more about, the issues,” Gladys said.
The conference Mass will be celebrated at 6pm in St Patrick’s Cathedral on Tuesday 22 September. Light refreshments will be served in the Cathedral Hall afterwards.
For more information about the conference, please visit: www.cwla.org.au
To register tel Pauline O’Malley (02) 4358 1801, firstname.lastname@example.org