For the past three years, Cara Ellickson, director of Flinders University’s Gender Consortium, has led a team working in Vietnam delivering a project to improve the management and delivery of services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking.
“I’m passionate about offering this support, as gender-based violence has a huge impact on Vietnam’s social and economic development,” Ms Ellickson says.
Working in conjunction with the Vietnam Women’s Union and Center for Women and Development, the Gender Consortium team at Flinders has organised training workshops and mentoring programs on how to best support the women and children affected by gender-based violence.
The team has carried out its work with the assistance of Commonwealth aid funding worth $2.1 million won by Flinders University under Australia’s Government Partnerships for Development program. The grant encourages partnerships between public-sector organisations in Australia and developing countries in the Asia and Pacific regions.
South Australian organisations involved in the delivery of the project include the Office for Women, SAPOL, Southern and Central Domestic Violence Services, Family Violence Court, Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service, Domestic Violence and Aboriginal Family Violence Gateway Service and Women’s Legal Service (SA).
Ms Ellickson said working with these organisations and being on the ground in Vietnam had affected how topics were taught by Gender Consortium staff at Flinders University.
“Over the past three years we have been running intensive training workshops in Vietnam and Australia; gaining practical experience in the field has been invaluable,” she says.
“Working in Vietnam has given our team new insights that have enriched our teaching. To be able to bring this experience to our students and immerse them in the research and culture brings the real world into their learning.
“Our project focus has been on strengthening Vietnam’s capacity to respond to gender-based violence by sharing the benefits of Australian best practice to increase knowledge, understanding and skills.
“I’m passionate about offering this support, as gender-based violence has a huge impact on Vietnam’s social and economic development.”
The project recently gained the attention of Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja.
Ms Stott Despoja was invited to a round table at the Center for Women and Development in Hanoi to discuss Australian Government efforts to address the issue of gender-based violence in Vietnam.
Ms Ellickson says Ms Stott Despoja spoke at length about the importance of the work being carried out in Vietnam and was pleased to hear about the partnership with Flinders University, especially as she began her career advocating for women’s rights in South Australia.
“She is a passionate advocate for preventing and responding to gender-based violence, and was inspired on hearing about the work being done in this area.
“Ambassador Stott Despoja observed how essential it is to have a suite of reforms in policy, policing and judicial responses to address gender-based violence.
“She underscored the need for a strong evidence base to support the work of government and non-government agencies and the critical role of engaging with the media in addressing gender-based violence.”
Funding for the team’s work in Vietnam will continue for a further 12 months and a number of activities are planned. These include training workshops on risk assessment, safety planning and responding to perpetrators, as well as White Ribbon Day events to encourage young Vietnamese men to stand up and speak out against gender-based violence.
More details about Flinders University Gender Consortium can be found here.
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