Banding Together to say NO to Domestic Violence

Several Rotary clubs across two clusters in Brisbane have banded together to partner with local refuges for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. The Domestic Abuse Committee of Riseley and Huang Clusters is now comprised of seven clubs and supports five refuges.

Originally conceived in 2019 by the Rotary Club of Kenmore, then joined by the Rotary Clubs of Ashgrove/The Gap, Brookfield, Karana Bellbowrie and Toowong as a means of pooling information and researching ways to support victims, the Joint Committee on Domestic Abuse has evolved into an amazing project and one that other Rotary clubs may well wish to emulate. More recently, the Rotary Clubs of Paddington and Brisbane Taylor Bridge also joined.

The power of multiple clubs collaborating is several-fold; collectively sharing and pooling information and research into the many organisations that proliferate in the domain of domestic and family violence. Clubs can also join forces to fundraise and increase financial assistance to a nominated project.

The clubs successfully combined for a district grant in May 2020 to support DV Connect, which operates a premier 24/7 telephone counselling service to people experiencing domestic violence and provides support to help them flee. Along with the district grant, the clubs jointly funded an update to its telephony services, donating $15,000 with DV Connect providing an additional $9,000.

This update enabled enhanced call monitoring, enhanced response times, and access to recordings of calls that can be used during court appearances.

The committee soon realised it needed a joint Rotary led initiative. Rather than support existing charities, the committee felt it was a better idea to go directly to a refuge and set up a connection with management. This would allow the club to directly provide the refuge with some of the things they need that are outside the scope of their everyday maintenance, which is usually provided by a combination of the State Government, churches and charities.

It was proposed that the Rotary clubs partner (sometimes in pairs) with a specific women’s refuge to provide funding for extras. Extras can include furniture, bedding, play equipment for children, Christmas presents for the families, storage sheds and fees for specialist medical appointments. Its current mission is therefore to financially support women’s refuges across metropolitan Brisbane.

“The women and children are so grateful,” said a Women’s Refuge manager.

“It gives them a sense of security, of not being alone, and that people care enough to give them nice things, which would not be possible for us to deliver if it were not for having the wonderful partnerships that we have.”

It’s a collaborative approach that empowers the women to build up their confidence and strive forward in life.”

Other salient club projects include collaborating on fundraising efforts, such as the forthcoming Rotary Photographic Competition; Brookfield’s Trivia Night to support domestic abuse projects, which members of all committee clubs attend; the Rotary Club of Toowong’s Melbourne Cup lunch fundraiser, which will be for its own refuge support; and the Rotary Club of Paddington’s fashion parade and high tea for its refuge.

To assist with this, the committee approached Challenge DV, which provides workplace training on domestic and family violence to businesses and government bodies, but also acts as a facilitator to link support organisations, such as Rotary clubs, with women’s refuges. To formalise the partnership and manage expectations, each club has signed an MOU with each refuge and Challenge DV.

Word about the success of the Domestic Abuse Committee in these two clusters has now spread to other Rotary clusters, which have approached the committee to get similar efforts underway.

The future goal is to encourage clubs throughout Australia to identify their local refuge centre and reach out to them. The committee asks the question: “What would it be like if all women’s refuges from domestic violence were partnered with their local Rotary clubs?”

If your club is supporting a refuge for women escaping domestic violence, please contact committee chair Carolyn Young via