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International Women’s Day 2020 – Interview with Helen Bolton, CEO, The SAFV Centre

The International Women’s Day 2020 campaign theme is #EachforEqual and explores how an equal world is an enabled world.

The SAFV Centre’s CEO, Helen Bolton, shares how our organisation celebrated International Women’s Day in 2020 and why we have an ongoing commitment to gender equality and preventing gender-based violence against women.

What does International Women’s Day mean to The SAFV Centre?

At The SAFV Centre, International Women’s Day is important to us and our work because evidence tells us that gender equality is essential in preventing violence against women and children as gender inequality is the most consistent factor associated with violence against women. Gender equality exists when people of all genders have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities.

The 2020 IWD theme explores the topic, an equal world is an enabled world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and action. We can actively choose to challenge gender stereotypes, broaden perceptions and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.

At The SAFV Centre, our work to create a gender equal world is not solely focused on one day, week, month, it is critically important each and every day. We support women and children who have experienced sexual assault and family violence, and also work with the community as a whole to prevent violence against women and children.

We celebrated International Women’s Day by sharing a morning tea with our staff and discussing how we are committed to primary prevention of violence against women and progressing gender equality. We participated in a group photo that demonstrates our commitment and aligns to the 2020 campaign theme, let’s all be #EachforEqual.

Why is The SAFV Centre committed to primary prevention?

Here at The SAFV Centre our vision is ‘for a community free from family violence and sexual assault, and a society underpinned by the principles of social justice and human rights’. Our work in preventing gender-based violence against women is clearly aligned towards achieving this vision.

Our organisation has a long history of primary prevention work. Our work continues to focus on preventing sexual assault and family violence from happening and primary prevention is a high level goal of our organisation’s current strategic plan.

At The SAFV Centre we put clients at the centre of everything we do. In the context of our primary prevention work, our clients can be across broad settings, for example: community, local and state government, organisations, business, or community.

As evidence tells us, while violence against women is prevalent and serious, it is also preventable, if we address the most consistent factor associated with this- gender inequality. This is what continues to drive us in this work.

What are the three key messages of The SAFV Centre’s primary prevention work?

Our work has a feminist approachThe SAFV Centre’s work in primary prevention is informed by a feminist philosophy. Sexual assault and family violence are predominately committed by men against women and children, and stems from beliefs and behaviour that support the use of power and control over others. Our approach is informed by the gendered drivers of violence against women.

Our work is evidence based and collaborative The SAFV Centre’s work in primary prevention is evidence based and in line with Victorian and Federal government frameworks and reform. We work in close collaboration with our regional primary prevention partners to strengthen and widen our impact. We have a public health approach to our work and which we fully understand is needed to create change at a population level.

Our work is intersectional – The SAFV Centre acknowledges that we cannot work to prevent violence against women without understanding that gender inequality cannot be separated from other forms of inequality. We are inclusive of diverse experiences and diverse voices in our primary prevention work, and take an intersectional approach that seeks to challenge power, privilege and oppression. This includes work to challenge forms of discrimination including homophobia, transphobia, racism, ageism and classism.

What are some other examples of The SAFV Centre’s primary prevention work?

The SAFV Centre are currently working on many exciting primary prevention projects across the Barwon region. This includes:

Breaking the Binary Code is a 12-month project in partnership with Barwon Adolescent Task (BAT) Force, City of Greater Geelong and Creative Geelong; funded by the Victorian State Government under its Free from Violence Strategy. The project has a focus on working with LGBTIQ young people and community to challenge gender and sexuality constructions, stereotypes and relationship expectations to prevent family violence. We are pleased to be hosting an event during Geelong Design Week, showcasing our approach to design and implementation of this project and launch of a creative resource informed by our consultation with community.

The SAFV Centre, in partnership with Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West, is leading a Community of Practice (CoP) for primary prevention practitioners in the Barwon region to deepen and expand practioner knowledge, and therefore improve service delivery.  A sustainable CoP will guide the practice of primary prevention of violence against women and family violence well into the future.

Further, we look forward to continuing to work with our partners, across multiple settings, to prevent gender-based violence against women.


The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of the land we stand on. We are committed to working toward creating a community where all people indigenous and non-indigenous are safe, connected and empowered to live well. The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre recognises the diverse needs of our community and we ensure our services are inclusive of all children, young people and their families including those who are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, those who identify as LGBTIQ and persons living with disability. We work collaboratively with people and partner organisations who also support our diverse client group. Interpreter and translator services are available to all our clients upon request.

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