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Family violence survivor commends new program for Perth families

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A new education program will be rolled out across local high schools in the Southern Suburbs of Perth, aiming to break the vicious cycle of domestic and family violence.

Zonta House Refuge received a $10,000 Slater and Gordon community fund grant to implement the Positive Pathways program for students and their families, providing a safe environment to raise awareness and support for victims of family violence. 

A survivor of family violence who suffered years of abuse from her husband and subsequently her son has praised the program.

The woman, who wants to be identified as Ms T, said had this opportunity been available while her children were at school, they would have had access to the help and support they needed.

“Unfortunately, my children were born into a hostile home, growing up around physical and emotional abuse with no support to get out,” she said.  

“After years of witnessing a volatile relationship, my son started lashing out in the only way he knew how, through violence.”

Ms T said the Positive Pathways program will provide children with a safe place to seek help.

“Not only is it important for children to understand violence is not an acceptable behaviour, they must also have a safe environment where they can report it and access the support they need,” she said.

“I am hopeful that this program will help break the cycle of family violence and give these children the best chance at a happy and healthy future.”   

Zonta House CEO Kelda Oppermann said the Positive Pathways program aims to educate students about family violence and to let them know it is okay to speak up.

“Children often feel comfortable amongst their school peers which is why it is important for a program like this to be rolled out in a safe space,” she said.

“The program will engage students through practical elements including art classes to produce artworks encouraging positivity and strength which will be donated to women’s homes and the refuge as well as various fundraising campaigns within their school community.”

Slater and Gordon Family Lawyer Jon Redman said in order for domestic violence to be a thing of the past, we need to educate the future generation on what is a healthy relationship.

“As a family lawyer I regularly see the absolute devastation caused by family and domestic violence in a home, especially on the children,” Mr Redman said. 

“We need to send a strong message to the future generation that domestic and family violence is never acceptable.

“Programs such as the Positive pathways are imperative to achieve the cultural change that will break the vicious cycle of family and domestic violence.     

“As is so often the case with major societal change, education is the key to not only dealing with the issue, but moving towards preventing it completely.”