Fight against family violence grows

Lisa Begg has learnt a lot about family violence over the years. As an obstetrician/gynaecologist working in private practice and in a public hospital, she has come to understand that family violence is not selective. It affects families from all socio-economic groups, different cultural and religious groups, heterosexual and same-sex couples and couple of all ages.     

Importantly, she has also seen that the commitment to combat family violence and support the women and children affected, is just as widespread and passionate. It also crosses every cultural, social and economic divide. She discovered this first hand in the lead up to a High Tea with a Swing in Hawthorn.

Lisa and her three children, Rohan, 18, Anisha, 13 and Nyla, 14, helped organised the High Tea recently which raised more than $5000 for McAuley Community Services for Women. Clare Myers, Rohan’s Carey Baptist Grammar School friend and her mother, Penny Underwood, McAuley’s Communications and Advocacy Advisor, along with Juliette Ward and her son, Nick, co-organised the event.

Like most of the High Tea’s during our annual High Tea appeal there was an abundance of beautiful food, prepared mostly by the organisers and their families and friends, as well as plenty of opportunities to donate to McAuley Community Services for Women.

For Lisa, one of the most moving moments of the High Tea with a Swing was when several of the teenagers present, led by Clare, Rohan and Nick lit 30 candles to mark the number of women killed through family violence up to that point.

Lisa said the candle lighting was a powerful symbol that really drew everyone back to the reason a very lovely social event was being held – to raise money to ensure that services keeping women and children safe, are maintained.

“One of the other important aspects of the High Tea was the strong presence of men who wanted to respond to this issue in a positive way. Rohan and his mates really wanted to make a positive contribution and they did. As well a lot of their fathers were there and doing their bit. There were a few grandfathers as well,” Lisa said.

Rohan and Clare are long-time supporters of McAuley Community Services for Women, having run in the Melbourne Marathon for the organisation and participated in other events. Clare hosted a High Tea last year. Lisa and her family also package up a huge gift basket of personal items every Christmas to be shared amongst women at our safe house.

Lisa’s work has brought her to the ‘front line’ of family violence more than once. Fortunately, she said hospital staff are now better trained to recognise family violence and equipped to refer the affected families to appropriate support services.

“I think our workplace systems have improved – sadly as the escalation in family violence is more widely discussed. Many years ago there was a culture of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. That has ended and hospital staff are unafraid to ask the questions and do what they can to support those involved,” Lisa said.

“The training provided to hospital staff, working across all areas, is important because it can be very disempoweringto identify a problem and feel unable to respond effectively.”

Caption:  Anisha, Nyla and Nick look on as Rohan, James and Hugo light a candle.