The Empowered Walk on Sunday 26 November


Pathways to Empowerment program expanding to the Hunter


A new three-year partnership is set to deliver life-changing programs to Hunter-based women recovering from domestic and family violence (DFV) in Newcastle. Thanks to support – and a $730,000 windfall – from the Greater Charitable Foundation, Zahra Foundation Australia will expand its services in the region.

The organisation was established in 2015 in honour of Zahra Abrahimzadeh, who was murdered by her estranged husband in 2010.

It offers a unique empowerment initiative, specialised financial counselling, one-off grants and skills workshops to help abuse survivors enrol in study, find work and plan their future.

Now, its nine-week Pathways to Empowerment program will be available, free of charge, to women across the Hunter, equipping them with the tools, knowledge and confidence to achieve financial independence, set and act towards life goals, find pathways to education, training and employment and to break the cycle of abuse.

Zahra Foundation Australia, which is based in South Australia, will collaborate with Newcastle’s crisis support service provider, Jenny’s Place, to roll out the initiative to victims of abuse and their children.

The team will work with women and non-binary people who have left abusive relationships, so they don’t need to choose between safety and poverty or homelessness.

The establishment of the program in the region comes at a time where the scale and prevalence of DFV in the community continues to climb.

In 2021-22, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research recorded an increase of 9.3% in the number of reported domestic violence-related assaults across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

Data for the past financial year shows that DFV is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children across the region.

Zahra Foundation Australia co-founder Arman Abrahimzadeh OAM said they were excited to expand the footprint of the organisation into NSW, and specifically the Hunter, which has been made possible through the partnership with the Greater Charitable Foundation.

“There is no recovery from family and domestic violence without financial independence and economic empowerment,” she explained.

“No woman should have to choose between the safety of themselves and their children or poverty and homelessness. 

“We have seen so many women find new confidence, pathways to education and employment and restore connections to friends and community through the Pathways to Empowerment program in Adelaide and we are excited about the opportunity to give women in the Hunter the same opportunity.

“Through Jenny’s Place, we will share our expertise and support services to people across the region with a particular focus on financial and economic empowerment, to break the cycle of domestic violence.

“We know what a difference the Pathways to Empowerment program can make in the lives of women and children and believe every woman recovering from family and domestic violence should have this opportunity.

“So, we are excited that women in the Hunter will now have that chance.”

Features and benefits of the new partnership include:

  • Creating critical access to recovery services in Newcastle for women rebuilding their lives after domestic and family violence;
  • Creating an evidence base of best practice supports and services via the partnership between Zahra Foundation Australia, Jenny’s Place Newcastle and program evaluation partner, Deakin University; and
  • Supporting the economic empowerment and financial independence of women, to support them to not just recover but thrive after fleeing from domestic and family violence.

Greater Charitable Foundation CEO Anne Long said, tragically, domestic violence continued to be a reality within our society, making services and programs provided by organisations such as Zahra Foundation and Jenny’s Place critically important.

“Since its establishment in 2015, Zahra Foundation has undertaken incredible work to help many women and children to rebuild their lives after experiencing domestic violence,” she stated.

“We’ve seen first-hand the work they have conducted across Adelaide, which aligns perfectly with our strategic focus of improving life outcomes by positively enhancing the financial wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.

“We saw this as a wonderful opportunity to assist Zahra Foundation in expanding their services interstate and look forward to working with them and Jenny’s Place over the next three years.”

IMAGE | Lata Satyen (Deakin University), Kelly Gannon (Greater Charitable Foundation), Greater Charitable Foundation CEO Anne Long, Zahra Foundation Australia co-founder Arman Abrahimzadeh, Natasha Malani (Zahra Foundation), Kelly-Ann Tansley (Zahra Foundation) Jenny’s Place operations manager Stacey Gately and Nicole Bailey (Jenny’s Place).

This story was written by Rod Thompson on 8 November 2022 and published in the Newcastle Weekly.

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