11 March 2021, Circular Head Chronicle
Circular Head local Tessa Moodie is putting Circular Head, Tasmania and the courage of all survivors of family violence on the national map. From an early background of family violence Tessa has grown as a survivor to become a voice for those waiting to be heard.
Tessa works as the Project Coordinator for Engender Equality Advocates for Change, initially starting out as an Advocate for Change in 2019, before moving into the coordinator role in the middle of last year.
Coordinating a team of 28 survivors, Tessa’s role includes supporting them to tell their stories to the media, public speaking and lobbying for the change of family violence laws in Tasmania.
“It’s fantastic, I love this job,” Tessa said. “I am very passionate about reducing violence towards women and family violence and helping survivors to be heard.”
As a passionate advocate for change, Tessa was invited to join a panel of speakers for the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) National Research Conference on Violence Against Women 2021 ‘Evidence In Action,’ originally planned for Adelaide in 2020, however due to COVID-19 the plans had to be put on hold. Instead, the conference became an online conference with approximately 460 people attending online from all around Australia. Those attending included people who support victims of family violence, work with perpetrators of violence, the government sector, researchers, health professionals and advocates.
Tessa had the honour of speaking alongside Rosie Batty OA, the English born Australian domestic violence campaigner and 2015 Australian of the Year. Rosie’s role as a campaigner began in 2014 after her 11 year old son, Luke Batty was murdered by his father.
“I spoke at the opening plenary with Rosie Batty OA called ‘Experts by Experience’, this was a panel of women who have experience of family and/or sexual violence leading the conference conversation on the critical importance of engaging women with lived expertise, and what does and does not work in practice,” Tessa said.
“It was so powerful to have a voice from little old Smithton on the National arena and represent Tassie on the map when we are quite often missed in these conversations.”
“Rosie is phenomenal, she has inspired me to speak up, I was so honoured”
“I felt pretty emotional afterwards that I was engaged to speak at that level alongside someone who I have so much admiration and respect for.”
Tessa used her time on the panel to convey the messages that women who have lived experience need to be included across all levels including prevention, practice, reviews, evaluation; women who have lived experience need to be acknowledged as Experts by Experience and funding for organisations to pay women to do the work is so important; voices of women from all groups and walks of life need to be included at the table, particularly those who have extra challenges to participating, e.g women with disability, cultural and linguistically diverse women, trans and gender diverse women and children are often labelled ‘witnesses of family’ violence instead of a direct victim.
“We need more voices of children who have experienced family violence because these are often missed.”
“The reality is that despite us thinking that the home should be a safe place, many women are not safe at home,” Tessa said.
“A woman is more likely to experience violence in her own home by someone they know, versus being assaulted by a stranger in the street.”
Tess said that the hidden versions of abuse, known as coercive control, involve things such as isolation from friends and family, financial control and psychological abuse are conversations that need to be sparked.
It is so hidden and private in the home that not many women speak up.
On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner, with one in three Australian women (34.2 per cent) experiencing physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a man since the age of 15.
One in four Australian women (23.0%) has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.
“We run a full training program for new advocates and fully support them to engage in advocacy,” Tessa said. “Our program is based on Our Watch’s “Change the Story” national framework, we welcome anyone who wishes to participate in the program to contact me through our website [https://engenderequality.org.au/advocates-for-change] or call 6278 9090.
Family Violence Counselling and Support Service Ph 1800 608 122
1800 respect www.1800respect.org.au Ph 1800 737 732
Mens Helpline www.mensline.org.au Ph 1300 78 99 78
Engender Equality www.engenderequality.org.au Ph 6278 9090