This month, we spoke to Sam House, Social Policy and Planning Officer from City of Kingston, about her vital work with Active Kingston, supporting local clubs to promote gender equality and diversity, including through upcoming initiatives with Proud2Play.
Social media handles: www.linkedin.com/in/samhouse01
Length of time a PiP member: Over five years
List of PiP activities attended: Various in-person and online events, including the PiP 2017-18 seminar series with guest speaker, Dr Marion Frere – my then-CEO in the Office for Prevention and Women’s Equality.
What is your professional background? How did it lead you to prevention work?
My introduction to working in the prevention of family violence space was serving as the Secretariat of the Victorian Government’s then-Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum and later, in a policy officer role within the Office for Prevention and Women’s Equality – Respect Victoria Establishment Team (then Department of Health and Human Services).
I moved to local government, coordinating a 12-month community-led, place-based project with the City of Kingston which engaged cultural and faith diverse community leaders in training to prevent family violence and promote gender equality in their organisations and communities. From there, I’ve been leading Council’s work to prevent family violence, including the implementation of their Prevention of Family Violence Action Plan 2019-2021 and more recently, Year 2 and 3 annual actions to prevent family violence under Kingston’s Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2021-2025.
When did you become passionate about gender equality?
Personally, it was probably when I wasn’t allowed to join the same Scout troop as my older brother because I was a girl and they didn’t have any female leaders. This led to the recruitment of their first female leader and my pioneering as the first female Scout of that unit!
Professionally, it was my role in helping establish Respect Victoria and gaining a deeper understanding of the research and evidence-base around the overwhelming and disproportionate rates of men’s violence against women and children in Victoria. I am a passionate advocate for the role we can all play to challenge gender inequality (and other social justice inequities), which drive family and gender-based violence.
(I think the recent implementation of Gender Impact Assessments across public sector agencies, including teams and departments not normally engaged in this space, will be instrumental in helping embed an intersectional lens in program and service delivery, and advance gender equality in Victoria)!
Tell us a bit about what you’re working on now:
We recently briefed Council on key outcomes of its 16 Days of Activism campaign for 2022, which included an engaging webinar on ‘Equality and Respect in Sport: Promoting gender equality on and off the field’ (recording available here). We’re continuing to work with Active Kingston on how we can support local clubs to promote gender equality and diversity, including through upcoming initiatives with Proud2Play.
Our free online (and hardcopy) primary prevention toolkit has also launched, developed with the Kingston Family Violence Working Group. The toolkit includes a poster series in English and eight other languages and a set of social media tiles that promote equality and respect across a range of settings (see www.kingston.vic.gov.au/services/health-and-support/prevention-of-family-violence > ‘Promoting equality and respect).
What skills do you use in your role?
Brief writing, presentation skills, project management, time management, stakeholder engagement and coordination, understanding of the policy and legislative landscape in Victoria and within our region, and active listening to ensure Council is adequately responding to community need.
What do you like about working in primary prevention? What drew you here?
I believe primary prevention is such as an important part of the work to end family violence in Australia and ‘stop it before it starts’. I like that primary prevention can empower people as advocates in this space, with increased knowledge and capability to recognise and challenge the underlying drivers of family and gender-based violence and contribute to positive change.
What have you found useful in the work that Safe and Equal & PiP do to support prevention workers?
Previous training workshops to build the foundations of understanding family violence 101 have been valuable for groups such as our internal Family Violence Staff Support Officers. Safe and Equal’s leadership around the statewide 16 Days of Activism has also been incredibly valuable to supporting key initiatives in Kingston.
What advice do you have for someone new to the PVAW sector?
To quote Change Our Game Ambassadors, Lauren Foote and Mel Jones OAM, who were such valuable contributors to our recent 16 Days of Activism webinar, ‘Ripples [of this work] can spread pretty far’, ‘The dividends will probably show long after we are in these positions but that as we know is the way of social change sometimes’.
Whose work do you admire?
I admire the work of many women who are leading and advocating in this space at the national and state level, including author Jess Hill, Kit McMahon (WHISE), Amy Prendergast (Respect Victoria), Dr Ramona Vijeyarasa (architect of the Gender Legislative Index), Dr Manjula O’Connor (Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health and author) and our male allies, including Dr Michael Flood (XY Online) and AFL player and Our Watch Advocate, Ben Brown.
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