Cara Gleeson

Biography

Cara has a decade of experience in gender equality, women’s rights, violence prevention and women, peace and security in the NFP sector internationally and in Australia. She currently is the program manager for Children and Young People at Our Watch. She has previously worked at VicHealth and the Australian Government Office for Women. She holds various governance roles including as chair of YWCA Housing and was a founding member of Young WILPF in Australia. She has represented YWCA Australia at the UN Commission of the Status of Women three times and has presented at the UN Human Rights Commission through the Universal Periodic Review.

Abstract

In 2009 and 2010 the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children were released. In 2017, at their midpoints, we examine how these national policy agendas are mutually reinforcing and can be further strengthened.

Our Watch was established to drive nationwide cultural change to prevent violence against women and their children. In 2015, alongside ANROWS and VicHealth, Our Watch developed Change the Story: a shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia (see https://www.ourwatch.org.au/What-We-Do/National-Primary-Prevention-Framework).

While Change the Story focuses specifically on violence against women, we know that children are frequently exposed to violence against their mothers, female family members and carers. Research shows where family violence is present it often occurs alongside child sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect. Children’s direct experience of and/or exposure to violence can result in significant harm including attitudes to relationships and violence, behavioural, cognitive and emotional functioning and future education and employment prospects. And while not inevitable, it can also lead to a higher risk of violence perpetration and potentially victimisation.

Despite these connections, these two issues are often isolated. Responses have largely developed independently in distinct ministerial portfolios, fields of research and practice with different histories, ideologies and practices.

Our Watch will present on Change the Story and open a broad discussion about how protecting Australia’s children is intrinsically connected to preventing violence against women and how we can learn from each other’s work.

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