What is Engender Equality?

For over 30 years, Engender Equality has worked with and on behalf of individuals, families and communities affected by family and domestic violence in Tasmania.

We see gender inequality as both the cause and the context of family violence. Only by actively challenging gender-based oppression can we achieve positive and respectful relationships within healthy, inclusive structures and institutions. This outcome will ultimately benefit the whole Tasmanian community.

We acknowledge that family violence is complex and that it includes a broad range of behaviours that are sometimes not recognised as violence. We also know that people are affected by violence in different ways.

If you are or have been affected by family violence, we focus on you as an individual. We consider your life, your needs and your circumstances, so we can really understand all the factors impacting your particular situation. We call this taking an ‘intersectional’ approach and it means we will respect your unique culture, ability, identity and life experience.

We provide:

  • Trauma-informed and evidence-based counselling
  • Locally-sourced information
  • Specialised, world-class, evidence-based resources
  • Education and support for individuals and groups affected by violence
  • Community training and education
  • Referral, where appropriate
  • Advocacy for systemic change to gender inequity and violence against women

Engender Equality is overseen by a board of highly skilled women who bring diverse skills to their governance roles. With corporate, not-for-profit and community representation, the board provide strategic leadership to the organisation that is informed by legal, financial, managerial and business development expertise. The Board is made up of members from across the state of Tasmania and work closely with the CEO to provide highly proficient stewardship to Engender Equality.

A dynamic, evolving organisation, Engender Equality’s philosophies, practice and resources are based around lived experience and grounded in cutting-edge research. Our progressive approach, combined with three decades of skills, knowledge and hands-on involvement gives us an edge in the fight for gender equality in Tasmania.

Engender Equality Alina Thomas

Chief Executive Officer

Alina Thomas (BSSc Comm Serv, GDip WomenSt)

Alina Thomas has an established career in the Community Sector with over 20 years of experience across a range of health and community projects, with a focus on women and wellbeing.

Alina leads the team at Engender Equality with vision, passion and expertise that combines consultation with clear strategic management.

Alina’s skills include enabling marginalised communities, community development, project management, financial management, community education and evaluation, and has a reputation as a progressive change agent committed to developing community-driven solutions to inequality, marginalisation and dis-engagement.

As the CEO of Engender Equality, Alina has increased the capacity and standing of the organisation to become a known thought leader and advocacy body against domestic and family violence. Alina has a sound standing as a spokesperson on domestic violence and gender inequality in Tasmania. In her representation of victim-survivors, Alina considers the diversity of the community and strives for inclusion and equal access of all people regardless of their lived experience, identity or socio-economic background.


Engender Equality Karen Grey

Treasurer

Karen Hind, (CA, BComm, FAICD )

Karen is a Chartered Accountant with extensive local and international executive finance experience. She has worked in both corporate and not-for-profit environments including Southern Cross Austereo (Aust), EMI Music Publishing (UK), Marie Stopes International (UK) and Scotch Oakburn College (Aus).

Karen was first introduced to Engender Equality as a counselling client during her own lived experiences of family and domestic violence. Karen knows firsthand how essential this exceptional organisation is for supporting survivors to manage complex, dangerous relationships and advocating the end of violence in Australian families.

Outside of Engender Equality, Karen is Founder of Evidently App. She is managing the development of Evidently App’s forefront technology that equips family violence survivors with evidence collection tools to assist in escaping dangerous and toxic relationships.

Driven by her desire to see entrenched toxic cultural attitudes about violence towards women wiped out, Karen aspires to see today’s young girls experience equal and safe relationships when they reach adulthood.

As both a survivor of family violence and a finance professional, Karen brings to the boardroom table a dynamic combination of executive expertise, empathy and a strong passion to realise Engender Equality’s mission.

  • Awarded a Tasmanian Government Board Diversity Governance Scholarship in 2018 and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • Featured by Smart Company as “a fearless female founder to watch in 2018"
  • Awarded scholarships from Tech Ready Women in 2018 and ING Dreamstarters in 2019 to support the critical social initiative, Evidently App

Engender Equality Kathryn Lenton

General Member

Kathryn Lenton (BSW and MCouns)

Kathryn Lenton is the Program Manager for the Australian Childhood Foundation in lutruwita / Tasmania. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Social Work and Masters of Counselling and has been working in the area of grief, loss, and trauma for over 20 years. Kathryn has also worked in implementing mental health policy into education curriculum, suicide postvention, generalist counselling, disaster recovery and older people’s care. She has practiced in Australia, Scotland and India. Kathryn has a particular interest in responding to the impacts of family violence, and practices from a strong anti-oppressive feminist framework.

Kathryn moved to Tasmania 4 years ago and now proudly calls herself a Tasmanian. Outside of work, Kathryn loves hiking with her partner and dog, reading, travelling, and spending time with friends.


Engender Equality Ruth Forrest

General Member

Hon Ruth Forrest (MLC Independent Member for Murchison)

Ruth was born and educated in North Western Tasmania. Ruth worked as a Registered Nurse and Midwife, childbirth and sex educator from 1982 - 2005. She is a member and past president of Australian College of Midwives (ACM) (Tas Branch) and awarded ACM Fellowship in 2001.

May 2005, Ruth was elected to Tasmanian Legislative Council (Independent Member for Murchison) and re-elected in 2011 and 2017, elected Deputy President and Chair of Committees (2018) and member and Chair of a number of Parliamentary committees.

Ruth completed a Master of Midwifery Degree (2010), Tasmanian Leaders Program (2011), Australian Institute of Company Directors Course (2012), Graduate Certificate in Business (2013) and Australian Futures Project Parliamentary Leaders Program (2017). In 2019, named as one of AFR’s 100 Women of Influence.

Ruth supports a number of community organisations including being Patron of Huntington’s Tasmania and also serves on the Board of Unconformity, an arts organization supporting Tasmania’s West Coast.


Engender Equality Lisa Schimanski

General Member

Dr Lisa Schimanski (PhD, BAppSci(Env)

Lisa is an experienced leader in the Tasmanian Community Services Industry, most recently in the role of CEO with peak body Volunteering Tasmania.

Lisa has a passion for changing the systems and structures that act as barriers to gender equity; a major contributing factor to violence against women. She spearheaded a campaign for Women in Research at UTAS that gained national traction and has maintained support and advocacy for equity for women throughout her career.

She has extensive experience in governance, strategy, government relations, policy, advocacy, program design and operational management across a range of peak bodies and service delivery organisations in Tasmania. She was also a Research Manager at the University of Tasmania for close to a decade.

Lisa has held several board roles in both Tasmanian and national organisations as well as key consultative and advisory groups in the community service sector. She completed the AICD Company Directors Course in 2021.


General Member

Prue Cameron (BA (Hons))

Prue Cameron has extensive experience in policy development, research, and advocacy. She has worked in the community, government and university sectors, and spent seven years as a senior advisor for the former leader of the Australian Greens, Bob Brown.

Prue has a strong commitment to addressing the causes of family violence and improving outcomes for victim-survivors though evidenced-based policy and systems reform. She spend four years working in the family violence sector in Victoria, where she conducted research into financial abuse, and as the senior policy advisor at Domestic Violence Victoria, she worked on the peak body's submissions to the Royal Commission into Family Violence. Prue was part of team leading the sector's responses to the Royal Commission's recommendations, including authoring a report on early intervention.

Since her return to Tasmania, Prue spent time at DPAC and Communities Tasmania, focusing on women's and multicultural policy. As the senior policy and projects advisor at Tasmania Legal Aid, she developed a client safety policy to improve responses to clients experiencing family violence, and a client engagement strategy to embed client voices into service evaluation and policy and program development.


Engender Equality

Engender Equality was established in 1987 in response to the notorious murder of Maureen Thompson by her estranged husband Rory Jack Thompson, a local CSIRO scientist.

Horrified by the case, a group of concerned women recognised that there were no specialist services for women who were experiencing family and domestic violence beyond the police and women’s shelters. The women established the Domestic Violence Action Group (DVAG), based on the belief that violence against women is a violation of human rights. In 1987, the Action Group acknowledged the long-term effects of violence on women’s lives, and decided to set up a women’s service based on a philosophy of equity and empowerment. The founding members of DVAG provided information and support in a voluntary capacity over a period of years.

This new service was called SHE which was an acronym of Support, Help and Empowerment, three essential elements in responding to the experience of family and domestic violence.

Initially, SHE was supported financially by community groups, businesses, and individuals in the local community. Later on, the Departments of Community Services and the Premier and Cabinet began to provide funding, as well as basic equipment and library resources. In 1991, funding had increased enough that SHE was able to employ workers and expand the service.

In 2016 SHE obtained a grant through the Safe Home, Safe Families; Family Violence Action Plan 2015 – 2020. This enabled SHE to extend service delivery to the Launceston and North West regions of Tasmania, making SHE a state wide service.

In 2018 the organisation’s name changed to Engender Equality. The name Engender Equality promotes the need to address the culture that enables family violence by working inclusively across the community.

Engender Equality continues to provide short to long-term specialised support and counselling throughout Tasmania and has become a leading non-government organisation working with individuals and communities impacted by family violence in Tasmania.

Engender Equality works to end all family, domestic and intimate partner violence. Ongoing funding from the Department of Communities Tasmania has enabled us to continue our work in supporting this mission.

The Family Violence Movement

Family violence campaigner Rosie Batty winning the 2015 Australian of the Year was one event that heightened public awareness and ignited a new wave of responses to family violence in Australia. Yet, just a hundred years ago, most people thought it was reasonable for a man to beat his wife to show his authority. At that time, family violence wasn’t considered a social problem. If it was considered a problem at all, it was a ‘women’s issue’.

Here is a brief overview of Engender Equality’s 30-year history in the context of the family violence landscape in Australia.

Early 20th century

In the early 20th century, groups of women started to address domestic and family violence:

  • Suffragists thought women and children could be better protected if women could vote (women were first allowed to vote in the 1903 federal election however Aboriginal women were not permitted to vote until 1962).
  • Members of the temperance movement linked alcohol with sexual and physical violence against women
  • Others saw government welfare for sole parents as a way to reduce violence against women

1950

The basic wage for women was set at 75% of the basic wage for men.

1970s

In the 1970s, a specific movement against domestic and family violence emerged. Supporters opened refuges, worked with women affected by violence and abuse, and lobbied for stakeholders like police, courts and welfare agencies to change their policies and practices. Human rights activists pushed for domestic and family violence to be seen as a criminal act.

1980s

Women’s political activities began to jolt state governments into action. Women working with those affected by family violence helped the community realise that domestic and family violence was overwhelmingly violence by men against their female intimate partners. This was a major turning point.

1983

In Tasmania, domestic and family violence grabbed headlines when Rory Jack Thompson murdered his wife Maureen. Maureen Thompson had sought help from the police, left the family home and sought legal advice. She was in the process of obtaining a court order against her husband. Neighbours apparently heard her screams but dismissed it as just another ‘domestic’.

Maureen Thompson’s death prompted the Tasmanian Government to respond to recommendations in a review of domestic violence laws.

1987

In 1987, the Domestic Violence Action Group Inc. acknowledged the long term effects of violence on women’s lives and decided to set up a women’s service based on a philosophy of equity and empowerment. Support Help Empowerment (SHE) started two years later, staffed by trained volunteers.

To start with, community groups, businesses and individuals in the local community funded SHE. Later, the government began to provide funding, basic equipment and library resources. In 1991, SHE could afford to employ workers and expand the service.

1987

Rape-within-marriage was criminalised in Tasmania.

1991

White Ribbon Day was established. White Ribbon Australia is a part of a global movement of men and boys working to end men’s violence against women. Through programs and campaigns, it aims to create an Australian society where all women can live in safety, free from violence and abuse.

2014

Greg Anderson murdered his eleven-year-old son, Luke Batty at cricket practice in Melbourne. Luke’s mother, Rosie Batty became an advocate for domestic and family violence survivors and victims, and sought to address systemic failures in responses to family violence in Australia.

Rosie Batty’s story helped establish the 2015 Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria. The report looked at how to prevent family violence, support victims, make perpetrators accountable, and better coordinate community and government responses and policy.

2016

Under the Tasmanian Government’s family violence initiative, Safe Homes, Safe Families, SHE became a statewide service. With offices and staff operating in Burnie, Devonport, Launceston and Hobart.

2018

To reflect a more proactive approach to ending violence against women, SHE changed its name to Engender Equality.

The 21st century movement against domestic and family violence has robust and diverse support – from policy makers to police, and from community services to academics. Underpinning this movement is a commitment to challenging violence and to empowering people affected by violence, for the benefit of the whole community.

Arrange an interview

Engender Equality is Tasmania’s leader in addressing and preventing family and domestic violence. For 30 years, the organisation has been committed to raising awareness about family violence and abuse as a whole-of-community issue, taking a proactive approach to engendering equality.

Engender Equality welcomes any opportunity to further conversations in the media around gender, violence against women, family violence and abuse and other human rights issues.

Engender Equality supports a network of family violence survivors who are able to talk to the media on their experiences and future changes to mitigate the impacts of family violence.

To arrange an interview you can call us on 0438 788 291

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