13 February 2024

Powerful Illawarra documentary premieres at Parliament House

| Zoe Cartwright
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Women stand in fron of projector screen in Parliament House.

Sally Stevenson (second from left) and members of the Australian Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Recovery Alliance at the launch of the Recovery and Healing documentary at Parliament House. Photo: Sally Stevenson.

A powerful documentary filmed in the Illawarra had its debut in Parliament House this month.

The Australian Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Recovery Alliance officially launched the Recovery and Healing documentary, which was filmed during the inaugural Australian Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Recovery and Healing Conference in Wollongong in May 2023.

Illawarra Women’s Health Centre executive director Sally Stevenson said the alliance wanted the launch to make a big impact, and Member for Whitlam Stephen Jones was only too happy to help.

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“When we first saw the documentary we were quite speechless,” she said.

“It’s powerful, it’s beautiful, and the launch was the culmination of something we’re really proud of.

“The reception was fantastic – you are held by it, you can’t look away.”

The documentary shares personal stories and professional understanding of victim survivor recovery and healing. It shines a light on the ongoing perpetration of violence within our community, and by the systems that are meant to provide support.

It also advocates for national investment in recovery and healing services and opportunities for all communities, and a future free from violence.

The alliance hopes the film will be shared across Australia in a variety of forums to bring awareness, compassion, and a compelling argument for dedicated recovery services for victim-survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence.

Government ministers, members of state and federal parliament and senators, people with lived experience and expertise of domestic, family and sexual violence, service providers, policy makers and researchers attended the premiere in Canberra on 8 February.

Mr Jones said the premiere was a continuation of his support for the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre and Trauma Recovery Centre.

“I’m proud to have secured $25 million in Commonwealth funding over a period of five years for the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre to establish the new Illawarra Women’s Trauma Recovery Centre – which is the first in Australia,” he said.

“This new documentary shines a spotlight on a really important issue through the sharing of personal stories. As outlined in our National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children, recovery and healing are crucial to help to break the cycle of violence.

“Our government also provided $20,000 in funding for ‘The Right to Recovery’ conference in Wollongong last year, which highlighted the importance of trauma recovery and safe healing strategies to end gender-based violence in Australia.”

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It was at the ‘Right to Recovery’ conference that the documentary was born.

Initially set to be an eight-minute long educational video, Port Kembla film maker Phil Crawford interviewed victim-survivors of domestic and sexual violence who attended the conference.

Malika Reese is one of the women who shared her experience, and said to see the documentary screened at Parliament House was deeply validating.

“I know it’s uncomfortable to hear these stories but it’s harder to live through it,” she said.

“It’s vital that we share these stories to bring healing and change, and protect women and children in the future.

“The film captures so much of that, to hear the voices, journeys and insights of these women in Parliament House brings a sense of great support, and a tide changing in our government.”

For more on the alliance, head to: About 2 — Australian Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Recovery Alliance (dfsvrecovery.com.au)

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