By Mursha Gapasin

Family violence is prevalent in Australia and around the world, affecting all types of families and communities. While there is a growing body of research and government inquiries done on the issue, very few are about culturally and linguistically diverse communities. 

Only the Filipino community has solid evidence that dates back to the 1980s; documented in the 2001 Australian People’s Encyclopedia and the monograph Gender Race and International Relations: Violence Against Filipino Women, published in 1997.

Project UGNAYAN on family violence primary prevention 1
The Silent Witness Network

The Silent Witness Network (TSWN), a multicultural organisation advocating for primary prevention of family violence in culturally and linguistically diverse communities, is currently implementing a community engagement project for the Filipino community in Melbourne’s northwest. This undertaking, dubbed as Project UGNAYAN, aims to strengthen the Filipino community’s capacity for and involvement in family violence prevention through tailored training, workshops, and development of resource materials. 

The first training on Family Safety Leadership was conducted in June this year. It was attended by leaders of various Filipino community organisations as well as young people and students who were committed to becoming champions of family violence prevention. Some of the participants eventually signed up as volunteers for Project UGNAYAN while the community leaders were encouraged to translate what they learned into their organisations.

A workshop on Understanding Gender Equality and Community Response to Family Violence is scheduled for 17 November 2019. Other activities include the production of information resources, such as podcasts, postcards, and brochures. The project concludes in November 2020.

Since the 1980s, the Filipino community has been at the forefront of the campaign and lobbying against domestic and family violence in Australia.  The Filipino Chapter in the 2001 Australian People’s Encyclopedia has adequately discussed this, written by known Filipina-Australian advocate Melba Marginson.  Project UGNAYAN is determined to utilise this historical role and achievements of the Filipino community in pursuing this advocacy. Through the UGNAYAN project, the Filipino community articulates its stand against family violence and commits to stop the violence before it occurs.

Project UGNAYAN on family violence primary prevention 2
Project UGNAYAN on family violence primary prevention 3
Project UGNAYAN on family violence primary prevention 4

In many cases, the front-liners or those who initially respond to family violence situations, are the community members, friends or families. Most women of migrant background, including Filipinos, experience additional barriers to accessing specialist services due to cultural and language differences. Prevention programs are therefore very important to eliminate family violence and in turn, reduce the burden on community members who must respond to the incidence of violence at the outset. 

The project is supported by the Victorian Government through its Capacity Building and Participation Program for Family Violence Prevention. 

For more information about how to get involved, please contact Project UGNAYAN by email: ugnayan@tswn.org.au or mobile: 0490527346.

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