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Attendees at the Australian Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Recovery Alliance conference. Picture by Sylvia Liber.

Why recovery message from Wollongong conference must be heard: Editorial

Hundreds of fierce individuals gathered in Wollongong’s Novotel North Beach Hotel today to discuss domestic, family and sexual violence.

There were powerful stories shared in the room, and more will be told tomorrow as the inaugural Australian Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Recovery Alliance conference starts its second day.

The conference is the first in Australia to focus on recovery from domestic violence.


It’s only fitting it is held in the Illawarra, where the world’s first Women’s Trauma Recovery Centre hopes to open later this year and where Sally Steveson AM from the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre is leading the charge.

The numbers around domestic violence in NSW are well known.

One in four women experience emotional abuse from a partner. One in three has experienced physical violence. One woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.

It takes a quick look through the Illawarra Mercury’s court pages to see the numbers played out in real time.

Read a little closer, and you’ll soon see a pattern emerge. The courts are full of perpetrators with their own story of witnessing domestic violence at home.

The conference aims to raise awareness about trauma’s role in the cycle of abuse in communities.

By addressing trauma and helping people to recover, we as a society can start to see change.

Its theme, ‘The Right to Recovery,’ explores healthcare, housing and economic recovery, children and accessible paths to justice and aims to influence policy and investment.

With keynote addresses from trauma expert and former Harvard Medical School instructor Dr Janina Fisher and 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, the conference has some firepower.

With the Federal Budget being delivered on Tuesday and NSW state government’s first budget set for September, let’s hope the message is heard well.

Because to ignore the experts in the room today is to deny a bright future for generations to come.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Illawarra Women’s Trauma Recovery Centre will be situated on the land of the Dharawal Nation. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and we pay our respects to Elders past and present for they hold the memories, traditions and hopes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia. 

This land is, was, and always will be traditional Aboriginal land. We acknowledge that we work in the context of generations of resilient, strengths-based, holistic resistance to violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

We commit to actively supporting and promoting the voices of Aboriginal people and organisations in our work. We fully support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.