14 May 2009

Raising awareness of domestic violence is a top priority for UQ’s Social Work students.

Third-year students Elizabeth Kerr and Kate Barrow are helping run Out of the Shadows, a one-day free event to be held in the Fortitude Valley on May 21.

“As well as raising awareness, this event will hopefully give young people the opportunity to offer their ideas on how to prevent domestic violence,” Ms Kerr said.

“Domestic violence affects a lot of young people but they rarely get the chance to have their voices heard.”

Funded by the Department of Communities and organised by Othila’s Young Women’s Housing and Support Service, the event will include workshops on hip-hop music writing and designing art murals, as well as free food, entertainment and stalls.

Domestic violence victims will also be given the opportunity “to air their dirty laundry” by writing anonymous messages on old clothes and displaying them publicly.

Othila’s Manager Jill Mckay said domestic violence was a major contributor to young people’s journey into homelessness.

“Violence can lead to homelessness as young people may witness it in the family home as children, or they are escaping violence in past or current relationships,” Mrs Mckay said.

“Othila’s is committed to ending homelessness and this cannot be achieved without looking to causes.

Out of the Shadows is a way for both young women and, equally importantly, young men to be involved in changing their community and to look at making change in their own lives.

“By asking young people to be responsible for change, and by demanding change from our policy makers and services, we can all begin to end homelessness.

"Everyone in the community must be part of the solution and young people should and can take the lead.”

Ms Kerr is currently completing her third-year practicum at Zig Zag Young Women’s Resource Centre, while Ms Barrow is working at Othila’s.

“Prac has really reinforced everything we’ve learnt and motivated me to continue working with women, who are so often the victims in domestic violence situations” Ms Barrow said.

Out of the Shadows will be held at Valley Police Citizens Youth Club, 484 Wickham Street (cnr Church St), Fortitude Valley, from 11am to 2pm on Thursday, May 21.

The event coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Media: Penny Robinson at UQ Communications (07 3365 9723, penny.robinson@uq.edu.au)