‘Resourcing leaders to help troubled families’

A workshop held by the Department of Justice, to educate and empower our clergy.

Safety… such a simple word but one that is taken for granted in Australia. While so many of us enjoy a safe and welcoming home environment, not everyone does!

  • While some of us sleep with very few worries…
    • others do not sleep for fear of what will happen to them and their children if they close their eyes.
  • While some of us worry about our children’s homework…
    • others worry about how they will provide food and clothes.
  • While some of us are concerned about the safety of our children who play sports…
    • other are worried about the safety of their child because of an abusive parent.

Organised by the NSW Department of Justice, all the clergy of NSW gathered on June 6th at St. Nicholas parish hall, to an intensive forum discussing Domestic and Family Abuse (also known as Domestic Violence, or simply DV).

Under the patronage of His Eminence, Metropolitan Basilios, in attendance was a small army of subject experts from a range of organisations. Not a single minute was wasted in what proved to be a rich, educational, critical, generous, and well-organised seminar.

Images from the Workshop


Yasmin Hunter and Danny Mikati, from the NSW Department of Justice, welcomed the clergy and thanked them for their commitment. Yasmin acknowledged that the clergy are trusted members of the community, and are often in a position to recognise violence in relationships. Danny, with years of Police and DV experience, challenged attendees about their understanding of the terms “domestic” and “violence”.

What is Domestic Violence?

What is typically associated with a husband beating his wife to the point of bruising, is not the only form of abuse. What was eye-opening is the types of abuse that were not simply physical but may include social, emotional, financial, verbal and many others (see more information about Different Types of Abuse).

The impacts on the family in particular children, was covered by Biljana Milosevic of the Jannawi Family Centre, Lakemba. Biljana spoke about the deep-seeded desire to keep a family unit together, and the difficult challenges a family faces as they begin to find healing. It was vocalised loudly that Domestic Violence is not, and should not be part of any culture:

“It is not fair to blame Domestic Violence on culture! By doing so, we are condemning the upstanding citizens as well”

“Even if we take away the law”, said Biljana, “Domestic Violence is still wrong… It’s still a human rights issue.” There is possibility to transform a community… simply by speaking about the different types of abuse and facing it directly.

A panel of experts

from Police, Victims Services, and Legal Aid worked through a case study and spoke about the complexities that can be associated in what are typical scenarios around Sydney.

Bankstown Police Sergeant Jane Prior, stated that Bankstown dealt with an average of 350 Domestic Violence cases each month… sometimes more! Legal Aid spoke about the free advice that is available to anyone that is in a Domestic Violence situation, and how they are able to help those who are on Visa’s- as long as they act quickly! Victims Services spoke about the types of anonymous services that can be provided including give shelter and relocation assistance.

The clergy were enriched and strengthened by the genuine love of the speakers. It was fortifying to hear of the specialist services on offer for clergy and community leaders to help refer families to expert services in order to offer safety, grant refuge and a chance to heal a family unit, or its most vulnerable members.

This was a great introduction to the great vastness of the challenges associated with families that are victim to domestic violence, but it will not be the last session.

A huge thanks to all the representatives from all the government departments who attended and supported. A special thanks to Reverend Father Fadi Nemme for being the catalyst for this project.

Need help?

Do you, or somebody you know, live in an abusive situation? There is anonymous help!

Please do not ignore… refer yourself, or the person, to your local parish priest. For independent reading, visit this link for more information about abuse and what you can do to assist:


Culture is not an excuse!
Reporting abuse does not necessarily mean a family will be broken up!
EVERYONE deserves to be safe!

We can all be advocates for safety and lead everyon to healing!