PiP Member Spotlight: Jodie Leahy from Nillumbik Council

PiP Member Spotlight: Jodie Leahy from Nillumbik Council

Friday 28 October 2022

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We spoke to our Partners in Prevention network member Jodie Leahy about her work in driving gender equity advocacy at Nillumbik Shire Council, and what she has found useful throughout her primary prevention career.

What is your professional background? And how did it lead you to prevention work.

I completed my Bachelor of Social Work at Victoria University. There I learnt about feminist and structuralist theory. My working background was in the response sector, I then moved into prevention around 9 years ago.

In 2014, I was a Social Worker at a council, and I started representing the council at the primary prevention networks. I was drawn in by the collective action, and the amazing work that people were implementing across their different settings. Prevention is really hopeful work.

Coming from response and building my knowledge of prevention and the health promotion model, it’s been great to see more of a connection between response and prevention work. Back then we didn’t have ‘Change the Story’, so seeing the evolution of this work has been really interesting.

Was there anything about those networks that inspired you?

I think the collective action, the amazing work that people were doing. When I first started, I wanted to get to know as many prevention workers as possible and build that peer support network.

When did you become passionate about gender equality?

I think I always was, but I didn’t have a name for it. In Uni, I enrolled in women’s studies and thought “This is what I’ve been looking for, this makes total sense.” Over the years my understanding has grown through listening, watching, reading and having many passionate conversations.

Raising my children – a daughter and a son – has made me even more passionate. They know mum advocates for equity. With the support of my partner, we are raising them to be passionate about gender equality and social justice. I also love how much they continue to teach me!

Tell us a little bit about what you’re working on now.

In 2019, Nillumbik Council received funding under Free from Violence.

15 gender equity advocates, including myself, were trained in Gender Equity 101. We then went out to our team meetings and introduced this topic to the whole organisation. We wanted gender equity as a permanent part of the agenda. It was about building conversation.

The next time we recruited advocates we got more people from the infrastructure area, including the depot and engineers, they presented to teams about our journey of gender equity, unconscious bias, gender, and intersectionality. It created a good understanding of this work and why we’re doing it. It also created multiple touch points to reach community, which wouldn’t be possible with one person.

The advocates are now being trained to complete Gender Impact Assessments to build capacity across Council and embed this practice as part of what we do.

It’s no longer just me doing this work within the organisation and I see that as progress. We have a whole team of staff across the organisation championing this work.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence – Nillumbik Shire Council

Gender Equity in the Early Years – Nillumbik Shire Council

What skills do you use in your role?

In my work, I use a lot of relational skills. Building connections and collaborative partnerships is important to me. I’m very open to learning and appreciate that we’re all learning together and supporting each other. Humour is also big focus for me, I like to have fun with my work.

What do you like about working in primary prevention?

In the primary prevention sector, you’re not in it alone. You may feel alone at the start, but once you build your support network around you, you realise you are part of a community and it’s very rewarding.

What have you found useful in the work that Safe and Equal and PiP do to support prevention workers?

I’ve really appreciated the opportunities to network, PreventX has been useful to hear what other people are doing and to be inspired. I’ve found the range of resources useful. Every month, I update our council intranet with new resources to share with the equity contact person in each team. This keeps gender equity and primary prevention on the agenda.

What advice do you have for someone new to the people sector?

Take the time to learn – you don’t need to know it all instantly. We’re all learning as we work in this space. You can get support by building up the network around you.

It’s important to have organisational care and support in this work, and important to have people you can debrief with when you need it because it’s emotional work and it has its challenges.

Whose work do you admire?

I admire all the people that work alongside me fighting for social justice and the amazing women who have gone before me. What I learn from them helps me in my work.

Page last updated Friday, October 28 2022


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Safe and Equal responds to the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032

Safe and Equal responds to the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032

Monday 17 October 2022

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Safe and Equal welcomes the launch of the second National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children, and its significant aim to end violence in one generation.

The new National Plan, running across 10 years from 2022 to 2032, is Australia’s united response to address one of our society’s most complex and critical problems.  

Ending family and gender-based violence – which is entirely possible – requires ongoing commitment, dedicated resources, and clarity of roles and responsibilities across all levels of government and throughout the community. A National Plan that recognises the importance of specialist service providers and professionals, one that promotes consistent standards and tangible, measurable outcomes to support and strengthen system capacity and capability in preventing and responding to family violence and sexual assault, is crucial. 

Significantly, the new National Plan clearly articulates the essential leadership role that specialist family violence services play in working with victim survivors and perpetrators, as well as building a robust evidence-base and informing policy development and system design. 

“Our specialist workforces are the frontline responders to the wicked scourge of family violence across Australia,” said Safe and Equal Chief Executive Officer Tania Farha. 

“Their expert understanding of the drivers, dynamics, risk factors and impacts of family violence is extremely nuanced and integral to effective, inclusive and trauma-informed responses to victim survivors.” 

“I have seen first-hand the impact these highly skilled professionals have on the safety and wellbeing of the victim survivors they support. It is crucial that all levels of government prioritise the sustainable resourcing of our sector, so they can continue to do this critical work,” said Ms Farha. 

The development of the second National Plan, which has involved consultation with specialist experts, allied sectors and people with lived experience, brings together approaches from all parts of our community and all levels of government to show that everybody has a role to play when it comes to eliminating family and gender-based violence. Importantly, the Plan also highlights the necessity of addressing the gendered drivers of this violence through targeted primary prevention initiatives. 

“Unless we address the underlying causes, we will continue to respond to the symptoms rather than stopping this violence from happening in the first place,” said Ms Farha. 

“We cannot eliminate violence in one generation without a concentrated focus on tackling the deeply ingrained attitudes, beliefs and structures that drives gender-based violence.” 

The second National Plan is a significant milestone in itself, but its implementation is where the hard work begins. We look forward to working collaboratively with governments, specialist services and with victim survivors to develop the first five-year Action Plan, which will set out in more detail what needs to happen to achieve these significant goals.

We have a real opportunity to change the course of our nation – let’s get to work. 

View the National Plan here.

Page last updated Monday, October 17 2022


With the Safe and Equal monthly bulletin