Flinders University has won funding for a program to improve the management and delivery of services to women and children in Vietnam who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking.
The Commonwealth aid funding, worth $2.1 million, was announced by Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop during her recent visit to Vietnam. The grant was made under Australia’s Government Partnerships for Development program (GPFD), a competitive grants program managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that funds partnerships between public sector organisations in Australia and in developing countries in the Indian Ocean, Asia and Pacific and regions
The University will provide an in-kind contribution valued at around $700,000.
In conjunction with the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU), the University’s Gender Consortium and its Australian partners will run intensive training workshops in Vietnam and Australia and a mentoring program in Vietnam.
Ms Cara Ellickson, Director of the Gender Consortium, said that strengthening Vietnam’s human resource capacity to respond to gender-based violence is critical.
“As well being a direct cause of suffering and distress, gender-based violence acts as a brake on Vietnam’s social and economic development,” Ms Ellickson said.
“Through mentoring and intensive workshops, the program aims to share the benefits of Australian best practice to increase their knowledge, understanding and skills.”
The 30-month program will focus on supporting staff in shelters and counselling facilities established by the Vietnamese Women’s Union at national and provincial level. These include two Peace House Shelters, one dedicated to victims of domestic violence and one to victims of trafficking.
As well as counsellors, the trainees will include other stakeholders, including members of the police and the judiciary.
The on-site workplace mentoring in Vietnam will be provided by Australian practitioners and a Vietnamese psychologist.
During the intensive workshops in Australia, participants will be introduced to key agencies involved in responding to domestic violence.
“We aim to share the entire system at work with our Vietnamese partners, so that they can use or adapt what they find useful to their own situation,” Ms Ellickson said.
Ms Ellickson said the Gender Consortium has a long record of involvement with women’s issues in Vietnam. Ms Ellickson herself began working in Vietnam in 1999 under the Australian Volunteers for International Development program, and was recently awarded the Merit Medal for the Development of Women in Vietnam by the VWU.
Ms Ellickson said the experience of working with Vietnam and other countries in South East Asia and the Pacific informs the topics taught by Gender Consortium staff in the Graduate Certificate in Gender Mainstreaming and Policy Development, Development Studies and Women’s Studies
“It gives us invaluable practical experience and insights that greatly enrich our teaching,” said Ms Ellickson.