Home / Front Page Slider / Sparking hope for domestic violence victims
Sia Spark
Sia Spark, 29, has been recognised for her work helping domestic violence victim-survivors.

Sparking hope for domestic violence victims

A FLAWED system that does little to support victims and survivors of domestic violence is at the heart of a project created by a Lesmurdie woman who last week was announced as a winner at the prestigious state-wide Young Achiever Awards.

Twenty-nine-year-old Sia Spark was last Friday awarded the Young Leadership Award for The Verso Project, a non-profit organisation she developed after working in the mental health sector.
   Ms Spark experienced gaps in the justice system and “shocking ways” that victim-survivors of domestic violence fall through the cracks.

“I wanted to change that, to shine a light on the tough conversations that really need to come to light if anything is going to change for the better,” she said.

Domestic violence in Western Australia is on the rise.

Police stats show an increase of 16 per cent in reported cases over the last five years, a figure that Ms Spark said is wildly under-represented.

“Research around domestic violence tends to focus on how many victim-survivors were granted restraining orders, or how many people applied for counselling at a support service but fails to take into account all the other parts of a victim-survivors’ life that is impacted,” she said.

“And sadly, many victim-survivors don’t report their abuser for a variety of reasons, including complexity of the justice system and lack of confidence in the justice system, so there’s a really under-reported ‘dark figure’ of domestic violence in Australia.”

Ms Spark says The Verso Project is most interested in digging deeper into the parts of domestic violence that are ignored, under-researched and need drawing out into the light.

The organisation produces frameworks, evidence papers, literature reviews, reports, submissions and evaluations and consults with victim-survivors to conduct research “that doesn’t shy away from the tough topics”.

“We dig deeper, allowing survivors to lead the movement for change by amplifying their voices,” explained Ms Spark.

“It’s our aim to end the idea that victim-survivors need to be spoken for, and instead empower self-advocacy and amplify those voices around tough, uncomfortable conversations that desperately need to be heard.”

The research and advocacy aims to better understand the under-reporting of instances of domestic violence; providing context of the systematic failures of our criminal justice system, how victims fall through the cracks and how we can better support vulnerable individuals and communities.

Ms Spark says that domestic violence ‘awareness campaigns’ are all well and good but that much more needs to be done if the statistics are going to stop rising.

“For many women, when they disclose they are experiencing domestic violence, no one listens to them. Women who experience domestic violence are often left to their own devices to navigate a very broken system to try to find their own supports – at a time when they are most vulnerable and in many cases, in fear of their lives,” she said.

“Culturally, we have ‘awareness campaigns’ and we learn to tell our friends and family that it’s okay for them to open up to us, but the fact of the matter is that many of us don’t know what to do if someone does open up to us – especially if they’re opening up about being abused.

“It’s a confronting topic, and many of us simply don’t know how to give adequate support to someone who is in a violent or abusive relationship.”

Ms Spark said she was “shocked” to be announced as the recipient of this year’s Young Leadership Award at a Perth ceremony last Friday.

“I’m incredibly humbled and honoured,” she said.

“The biggest reward for me, is being able to assist women on their journeys towards justice and away from violence and abuse.

“If I’ve been able to help even one person in any small way, then I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile.”

By Rebecca Peppiatt

About The Editorial Team

Echo News gives readers an alternative to other media outlets in WA and enjoys a very high rate of readership in its distribution area. Our Echo News team are a small group of devoted individuals who work hard to give the local community an easy to read, yet intelligent mix of local community stories.

2 comments

  1. How do I get in touch with this lady, would like to share my story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*