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Domestic violence victim support charity expanding its reach in Newcastle:

Join our #StepUpSpeakOutSupport movement against domestic violence.
By Expert Tips
Date: March 03 2020
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Friends With Dignity is ramping up efforts to further its reach into Newcastle by urging volunteers to join their #StepUpSpeakOutSupport movement.

The nationwide not-for-profit organisation, recognised as The Australian Charity of the Year 2018, is hosting an Information session to recruit volunteers in the Newcastle region with the aim of helping as many men, women and children affected by domestic and family violence.

With recent and ongoing tragic events, Friends With Dignity Chief Operations Officer, Zoe Scharenguivel says community members need to channel their outrage in to making a real and tangible difference to the lives of individuals affected by domestic and family violence.

“There are ways that everyone can #StepUp and make positive change,” said Ms Scharenguivel.

“Friends With Dignity as an organisation works on the front line with refuges and crisis centres to offer immediate support to victims at the lowest points of their lives.

“We are urging community members who want to make a real difference to volunteer with us, and to also attend our events as they are a source of critical funding to help support all of our programs, which are gifted unconditionally, including our Australian-first, bi-annual Little Friends Scholarship Program, which awards cash scholarships to the value of $500 for educational and extra-curricular activities to children who have faced domestic or family violence.”

Australian of the Year 2015 and domestic and family violence crusader, Rosie Batty has also thrown her support behind the work of Friends With Dignity.

“I've always looked at ways to help with fundraising across Australia for those who are assisting victims in crisis,” said Ms Batty.

“What I like about Friends With Dignity is that they have identified a gap and a need, and offer a very practical way to help support victims at a time in crisis.”

A safe and secure home is something that most of us take for granted so, among other projects, one major initiative of Friends With Dignity is the “Sanctuary” program, which utilises social media to appeal to thousands of everyday Australians to donate what they can to transform empty shells into homes for individuals or families to start their journey free from violence, in a safe space, and with dignity.

“Without the power of the community, we could not achieve what we have. We are seeking volunteers with a passion to make a difference, whatever their strength may be, they can join us to StepUp, SpeakOut and Support,” said Friends with Dignity Chief Executive Officer, Manuela Whitford, a clinical nurse who established the charity after witnessing women from diverse backgrounds getting themselves incarcerated in order to find a place of refuge.

"Many women in the prison system are seeking refuge from violence happening within their homes - a place associated with safety, warmth and love. These women are committing crimes to escape."

Though victims are overwhelmingly female, this help is not limited to women and children, but extends to men and the LGBTQI community too.

"Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, culture, religion or economic background, so neither must the assistance we offer," said Ms Whitford

As of 2017, the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme saw restraining orders become automatically recognised and enforceable all around Australia, rather than on a State by State basis, also eliminating the need for court appearances by victims seeking assistance.

"Victims need real support, both moral, physical and financial, in order to find the strength to put the detrimental situation or abuser behind them forever, and start completely afresh," said Friends With Dignity Chief Financial Officer, Julia McKenna.

Friends With Dignity endeavours to support survivors of domestic and family violence to start new lives with dignity and hope through their programs, especially where children are involved. According to the Childhood Domestic Violence Association, witnesses of domestic abuse at such an impressionable age are six times more likely to commit suicide or may even continue on in life to become an abuser themselves.

Friends With Dignity work through their network of registered referring agencies, refuges and support services in order to ensure that their clients’ privacy is always protected. They do their part for victims of domestic violence without judgement. Their only concern being to ensure that those in need feel that they have a friend in a time of turmoil, and to also feel that they are finally able to reclaim their dignity in order to leave toxic situations behind and move forward with lives free from violence and abuse for good.

Ms Scharenguivel says the Friends With Dignity High Tea With Friends Newcastle event in support of National Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month promises to be an inspirational afternoon of entertainment, friendship and fun.

"Our High Tea With Friends events offer an opportunity for guests to enjoy an afternoon with colleagues, friends and family, while supporting a most worthwhile cause at the same time," said Ms Scharenguivel.

"Admission to this afternoon with Friends includes a glass of bubbles on arrival, high tea, guest speakers, live auction, and raffles.”

The Friends With Dignity High Tea With Friends Newcastle event is being held at the Wests Convention Centre on Saturday, 9th of May, 2020 and tickets can be purchased at this link with special discounts for group bookings:

Friends With Dignity is hosting its Volunteer Information Sessions in Newcastle, New South Wales at the Wests New Lambton Bowling Club on Saturday 7th of March, 2020. The morning session is 10:00am-12:00pm and the afternoon session is 2-4pm. The information sessions are free to attend with coffee/tea included. Interested volunteers are being encouraged to register early with limited spots available.

More information can be found at this link: and

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