Bribie Island leads the way on Domestic Violence

On Saturday the 6th March 2021 the Bribie Island RSL came alive for the launch of Hairdressers with Hearts (HWH) Online Domestic Violence (DV) Training course. Guests of honour at the launch included Kay McGrath OAM from Channel 7, Lisa Currie HWH Ambassador, Terry Young Federal MP, Ali King State MP, Brooke Savige Local Councillor and Cara Cook Brisbane City Councillor.

Around 80 people gathered for the event which was promoted by the placing of a Supercar racing machine at the entrance to the RSL bearing the HWH logo.

Terry Young MP said the DV issue was not about politics but that it was a scourge everyone wants gone. He said he didn’t realise the bond between a hairdresser and their client until his wife filled him in on what gets discussed during her two hour visit as opposed to his 20 minute visit to the barber. He encouraged everyone to talk to their hairdresser or barber about getting involved and pledged commonwealth support to the scheme.

HwH Ambassador and domestic violence survivor Simone O’Brien said there were a number of physical, financial and emotional warning signs of which hairdressers and barbers should be aware.

“The most obvious signs are generally physical such as bruises, a busted lip, black eyes, red or purple marks on the neck, hair missing, smashed phone, tenderness of the head and neck at the basin, anxiety and looking at their watch or phone continuously. Victims commonly to try to cover up the physical signs with clothing, wearing scarves or long sleeves on hot days, heavier make up or wearing sunglasses inside,” she said.

“Financial signs can include extreme budgeting for hair services such as paying $100 in cash and only paying $10 on card; anxiety about how long the appointment is taking and whether the cost is increasing; many text messages about time and costs; not having access to a vehicle or bank cards.

“The perpetrator may even attend the appointment, monitoring the client’s every movement; sit out the front of the salon or in the car outside; or tell the hairdresser how the victim is to have their hair done.”

Simone spoke of her survival story and said we all need to make sure next generation don’t have the same problems of with DV that she has had. She encouraged us to look out for the little red flags that turn big very fast as they had when she was brutally attacked.

Ali King MP welcomed the initiative on behalf of Shannon Fentiman, Minister responsible for Queensland Women’s Week celebrations and announced a state government review into coercive control. Coercive control is the controlling behaviour which often precedes a domestic violence attack and needs to be addressed in the community. She also highlighted that the median age on Bribie is 12 years above state average making elder abuse very relevant here.

Councillor Cara Cook ran the first DV law firm in Australia before becoming a Brisbane City Councillor and announced that five Brisbane City Councillors are donating $1000 each for training hairdressers using the HWH online training package. This will train 40 hairdressers and provide an example for other councils to follow.

Lisa Curry shared her personal story of DV and pledged a $10 000 donation from her company Happy Healthy You. She called on the government to provide money for this initiative saying it was needed now and that victims couldn’t wait any longer.

The founder of HWH, Sonia Colvin was also on hand to explain this great local initiative.

She said hairdressers and barbers will play an important role in linking victims of domestic and family violence and elder abuse to potentially lifesaving resources through a new program by Hairdressers with Hearts (HwH).

The non-profit organisation has launched an Australian-first training program designed to support the nation’s 67,000-plus hairdressers and barbers to utilise the sanctity of the client-hairdresser relationship to link victims who have confided in them with relevant professional services.

The innovative program has been developed with the assistance and expertise of the Red Rose Foundation, Caxton Legal and the Centre Against Domestic Abuse.

HwH Founder Sonia Colvin, who has already helped connect more than 200 victims with appropriate services, said sometimes going to the hairdresser was the only time a domestic violence or elder abuse victim was on their own, and able to speak safely about their situation at home.

“I’ve had clients say to me ‘I don’t know why I’m telling you this’ or ‘I can’t believe I just told you all that’, and while trends may come and go in this industry, what stays the same is the unique client-hairdresser connection,” Ms Colvin said.

“Hairdressers and barbers are frontline in the community, reaching people on a grassroots level, having intimate conversations with clients on a regular weekly, monthly or six weekly basis.

“Our industry can make a huge difference to some of the nation’s most vulnerable, whether we are hairdressers and barbers based in a salon, working remotely or in rural areas, in multicultural or aged-care communities, or providing mobile services in people’s homes.

“We are not domestic violence or elder abuse workers, we are the link, and with the correct resources and appropriate training, we can do our part.”

Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council co-Chair Kay McGrath OAM said it is important to remember that domestic and family violence goes way beyond physical abuse.

“It includes the domination and control of a supposed loved one in all aspects of their life. Devastatingly, 1 in 3 Australian women are at risk of experiencing domestic violence, and every day as many as 10 women are admitted to hospital with injuries inflicted by a family member or domestic partner,” she said.

Ms McGrath said the HwH training was innovative in that it upskilled hairdressers and barbers to recognise the signs of abuse, as well as providing them with the resources to refer clients to specialist support.

“While the scale of the problem seems large, if we concentrate on these small but important acts, we can all make a difference,” she said.

Hairdressers and barbers who join the program will be provided with training, merchandise and resources and can sign up to become an accredited salon on the HwH website at hairdresserswithhearts.com.au

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