In just two years we've achieved some amazing things. As we look forward, we remember where we've come from and the wins along the way.
In Australia, most violent crimes have been in decline, but the rates of domestic and sexual violence are soaring. Gendered violence has escalated to the point that now two women are killed each week - twice the historical average. As at the time of writing, 78 women have been killed in Australia this year alone, the majority of them by male partners.
There are three specific ways that we believe Common Grace can work towards the ultimate goal of eliminating domestic and family violence in our nation, whilst 'staying in our lane' as a Christian movement.
Create an online resource for church leaders
One of the first priorities our Domestic and Family Violence campaign team established when it was formed was to find ways to assist churches in Australia ‘get our house in order’. We were acutely aware that domestic violence has long been an issue that denominations and faith communities have not addressed well, and we wanted to practically equip church leaders do better in the future.
We have therefore been working hard on the development of a web-based resource/tool-kit that provides practical, accessible, best-practice materials for church leaders on how to recognise and respond to family violence, and teach and educate congregations about this issue.
The scope of the project is to develop a practical, accessible and readable resource based on existing and relevant evidence-based secular and Christian material produced in Australia within the last five years. It is aimed at church leaders, specifically to help them lead and educate faith communities on how to recognise, prevent and respond to domestic violence in their communities. The resources are intended to help churches provide suitable wrap-around support at a local level (including referral to specialist services) for people affected with domestic violence, depending on their resources and levels of expertise.
The first stage of this project - the section that focuses on recognising and addressing domestic and family violence, and following appropriate processes to care for those who experience it and refer them to the best help services - is almost complete and our core team will soon move on to developing a communications strategy that will actually deliver it to church leaders so that it can be put to best use.
We are also now looking to begin stage two of this project, which is to put together a theological framework that helps church leaders teach on, train others about and create a healthy church culture about respectful relationships.
Share stories to raise awareness
Whilst seeking to 'get our own houses in order' we also want to ensure that our Common Grace community is well informed regarding the latest developments in national and international efforts confronting domestic violence, with a specific emphasis on hearing from those who work on the frontline and amplifying the voice of survivors where appropriate, so that we can learn from their experience.
Contribute a Christian voice to National Campaigns
We also want to contribute a compassionate Christian voice to our national conversation on this issue that is about confronting the causes and responses to domestic violence in our nation. Rather than taking action in isolation, this year our focus at Common Grace will be on deepening our engagement with other national campaigns in the sector, learning from their extensive wisdom and experience, and when appropriate, mobilising Christians to advocate for increased funding to frontline services and policies that help address the epidemic of domestic violence as part of the wider sector.
Encourage churches to engage with DFV in their services
Later this year we'll be inviting churches to publicly engage in educating and raising awareness within their congregations by setting aside a Sunday to focus on the issue. We'll be providing prayers, liturgy, and content to be presented during a service, to help create a culture in our churches where people might be willing to speak up and out more often.
There's obviously a lot of work to be done between the articulation of the vision above and actually achieving these outcomes - ranging from the administrative tasks to communications and web work. One of the most helpful ways that you can support us in achieving these is by donating towards the labour costs of our staff and contractors who will actually do this work, and towards the web platform costs associated with making our resources accessible. You can partner with us in this way here.
If whilst reading the vision that we've articulated above, you're aware that you have expertise, research or media skills that could be helpful to the development and delivery of the resources we've outlined above (and you'd like to volunteer to contribute them!) we'd love to hear from you. Pease contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.