On Monday 26 November, the Inner West Mums Facebook group was honoured at the 2018 Gowland Awards, hosted by law firm Gowland Legal at the Parliament of New South Wales.
The inaugural event celebrates individuals whose efforts to raise awareness of and eradicate domestic violence both inspires and motivates, and calls out the worst examples of domestic violence denial.
From Inner West Mums Anita Vitanova, founder, and Ginny Grant, from the admin team, attended, together with numerous dedicated frontline workers in domestic violence.
Gold Gowland Awards for Excellence in Domestic Violence Awareness were presented to highly esteemed journalists Dr Julia Baird and Hayley Gleeson, recognising importance of their work.
Gowland Legal principal solicitor Lyndal Gowland explained that Baird and Gleeson had used their voices in the media to drive change in views towards the impact of domestic violence and to shine a light on religious institutions, which have traditionally been afforded exemption from scrutiny around their attitudes towards women, and, in doing so, risked backlash and abuse.
Gowland Legal principal solicitor Lyndal Gowland
In a very humble and poignant acceptance speech Dr Julia Baird spoke of the hundreds of courageous women whom they interviewed. ‘Hayley and I have tried most of all to tell the stories of the women that have not been told before, to make visible the invisible, to make audible the inaudible, and that in itself is an enormous cultural shift …’ In speaking of the response to their work, she said, ‘I’ve never in my life seen such widespread dismissal of the voices and the views of women … You realise that culturally what a task we have, to say this is important and these women must be heard and this matters.’
Gold Gowland recipients Julia Baird (left) and Hayley Gleeson (right)
Left to right: Julia Baird, Lyndal Gowland and Hayley Gleeson
In addition – and much to our surprise – the Gold Gowland Award for Exemplary Leadership and Selfless Acts of Time and Dedication to the Prevention of Domestic Violence was given to our very own Anita Vitanova!
Lyndal Gowland said of the Inner West Mums Facebook group which Anita founded and runs: ‘This group strives to provide tremendous assistance for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.’
Over the past six years, Anita Vitanova and the Inner West Mums group have offered assistance to countless women and families experiencing domestic violence through facilitating anonymous posts, behind-the-scenes support and donations.
Anita said: ‘I would like to accept this award on behalf on Inner West Mums members, who always stop to encourage and advise, and offer practical support to the victims; the admin team who work tirelessly around the clock; and last but not least, I dedicate this award to the women who have the courage and strength to leave an abusive relationship and establish a new life. They are the ones that deserve this recognition.’
Anita Vitanova accepting her award from celebrated domestic violence educator Dixie Gordon
Gold Gowland Award recipients Anita Vitanova, Hayley Gleeson, Julia Baird
This year the event was generously supported by the following Labor MPs, all members of the NSW State Parliament:
Jo Haylen MP, Member for Summer Hill
Jenny Aitchison, Member for Maitland, Shadow Minister for Women, Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence, Shadow Minister for Business
Sophie Cotsis MP, Member for Canterbury
Trish Doyle MP, Member for Blue Mountains
Yasmin Catley MP, Member for Swansea, Shadow Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation
Julia Finn MP, Member for Granville
Jo Haylen is a mum to three children. She is passionate about advancing women’s rights and fighting to end domestic violence, and is committed to assisting women, mothers and children through her work. She was critical in leveraging support for the event.
Of the awards, Jenny Aitchison said, ‘It was a great honour on Tuesday night to assist Gowland Legal in the presentation of the Gowland Awards to Julia Baird and Hayley Gleeson for their courageous work unveiling the appalling response of religious orders to domestic violence. Thank you to Lyndal Gowland for all you do to shine the light on domestic violence and your work with survivors to achieve safety and justice.’
Jenny Aitchison (left) pictured with Julia Baird, Hayley Glesson, Dixie Gordon and Lyndal Gowland
According to tradition, the evening included the presentation of the Howl for a Gowl – ‘I Called It Out’ Awards, showcasing some of the worst victim blaming, patronising and inaccurate remarks made about domestic violence in the past year – a truly appalling reflection of ongoing public domestic violence denial.
Our thanks to Gowland Legal for continuing to take a strong stance against this important issue for our community.
If you are considering separating from your partner, you may find this 12-week guide to starting a new life helpful.
If you believe you or your children are in immediate danger, please call the police.
Domestic violence services
The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service NSW – 1800 938 227
Leichhardt Community Women’s Health Centre – 9560 311
Southern Sydney Women’s Therapy Centre Campsie – 9718 1955
Moving Forward – 1800 65 64 63
Link 2 Home Emergency Accommodation – 1800 152 152