Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety reports one in four women have experienced at least one incident of violence by an intimate partner, and one in six women have been subject to violence by a partner since the age of 15. CSU’s Dr Andreia Schineanu aims to change that.
Dr Schineanu from CSU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences is involved in the Wagga Wagga Sisters Housing Enterprises, which provides crisis and medium-term supported accommodation for women and women with children who experience domestic violence and homelessness.
“Domestic violence has always been my interest, just because it affects so many women and is such a big problem, and it’s something that we can actually change with education,” she says.
Dr Schineanu describes her motivation to become involved in these problems as something you can’t ignore.
“Once you start reading about it, you’re just horrified at this issue. And you think no, I can’t just sit back and think that’s not my problem,” she says.
“We did a community survey in Wagga Wagga on attitudes to violence, and really what’s coming across is that people, the community, the leaders, they don’t really see it as their concern; it happens to other people, it happens to Aboriginal people, the refugees, the poor people. But we know it’s happening everywhere so really we are trying to get the discussion going, which can get really hard sometimes, because it’s not a pleasant subject.
“It hits home to a lot of people. When you start talking about gender imbalance and sexism, it hits home and people don’t know how to handle that, so the way the deal with it is to say ‘no, I don’t want to talk about it, it’s got nothing to do with me’. So really, what we’re trying to do is to start the conversation and get people thinking.”
Dr Schineanu acknowledges domestic violence is an unpleasant topic.
“While doing my PhD, I would get quite depressed reading all these horrible stories and I just felt very powerless,” she says.
To keep going, she focuses on the little things – “the little achievements that make you think ‘maybe I am making a difference’.”
Dr Schineanu believes the first step to removing sexism in our society starts with conversation.
“If your friends start making sexist jokes, just tell them it’s not funny. Even that’s enough. It gets people thinking, and that’s where it all starts,” she said.
She also has a message for young people: “If there’s anything young people can do, it’s to get involved. Go out there, get on committees and have a say in how things are run and you can make a difference.”
Dr Schineanu has a goal for the Sisters Housing Enterprises.
“To not exist. To be a service that’s not required anymore because there is no violence and there is gender equality. To have a world where there is respect – across the board, because there is equality. Once you have equality, all the other things will fall into place.”
If you or someone you know suffers from domestic violence, please seek help. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.
This Foundation Day, we’re celebrating the work CSU students, staff and alumni are doing in their communities, and how they’re living well in a world worth living in.
Yindyamarra Winhanganha: The wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in.