As we embark on the crucial journey of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we must reflect on the profound transformations within our agency. In our pursuit of creating greater safety for women and children, we have embraced the Safe and Together Model—a groundbreaking approach addressing the systemic expectations placed on women to ensure their safety.
Too often, women have held the burden of preventing violence against themselves with the age-old statements of “Why doesn’t she leave?” or “She is choosing him over the children”. Traditionally, the emphasis has been on women altering their behaviour or choices to avoid victimisation. However, this paradigm perpetuates an unjust cycle where the onus of safety falls squarely on the shoulders of the potential victims rather than addressing the root causes of violence, the person choosing to use violence.
Our agency has taken bold steps to dismantle this paradigm by adopting the Safe and Together Model within the Children & Families Division and soon the whole agency. This innovative approach shifts the focus from the survivor's behaviour to the perpetrator's actions and accountability, preventing the perpetrator from remaining invisible to systems.
At the core of the Safe and Together Model is the belief that systemic change is necessary to eradicate the ongoing violence against women, especially post-separation from the perpetrator. Instead of isolating incidents, we examine the larger picture, considering the dynamics within families and communities. By doing so, we not only hold perpetrators accountable for their actions but also challenge the ingrained societal norms that perpetuate a culture of violence.
This model encourages collaboration among various stakeholders, including police, social services, and community organisations. By fostering partnerships and breaking down silos, we create a unified front against gender-based violence. This collaborative approach ensures that survivors are supported comprehensively, and interventions are effective in dismantling the systems that enable violence.
Through training and implementation of the Safe and Together Model, our agency has witnessed a tangible shift in how cases are handled. Practitioners are now equipped with the tools to identify and address the root causes of violence rather than placing undue responsibility on survivors. This paradigm shift is a crucial step towards systemic change that acknowledges the interconnectedness of social structures and personal safety.
As we commemorate the 16 Days of Activism, let us celebrate our strides in implementing the Safe and Together Model. By challenging and transforming the systems that perpetuate violence against women, we are paving the way for a future where safety is a shared responsibility, and no woman is burdened with the sole expectation of ensuring her own wellbeing. Together, we stand against gender-based violence, fostering a culture of empowerment, accountability, and, above all, safety for all.