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Catholic Women of Australia Fight Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking


Catholic Women's League (CWL), Gladys Meaney-Budd
Catholic Women's League (CWL), Gladys Meaney-Budd


By Elizabeth McFarlane

The fight against domestic violence and human trafficking is just beginning in Australia. Statistics show that one in three women is a victim of domestic violence, and with human trafficking cases popping up in our very own backyards, it is only right that campaigns against these two growing issues gain momentum.

The Catholic Women’s League (CWL) have vowed to take on this worthy fight, with over 5000 women from across Australia preparing for their 47th National Biennial Conference in Parramatta. The conference will run from the 22 to the 24 September 2015 to respond to the need for greater education, strategies to overcome abuse and a renewal of hope around the issues.

According to their national newsletter, the CWL “seek to influence legislative and administrative bodies at all levels, in order to preserve the dignity of the human person.”

Gladys Meaney-Budd, a representative from the CWL in Parramatta, supports the belief that education is at the heart of combating these issues:

“We are going to address this sad situation in our society by learning more of how we can support the victims of these crimes.  Our education will be further enhanced. We will have more information and strategies to combat these evils in our society, remembering the words of the Holy Father, ‘Open our ears to hear God’s word.’”

Gladys believes only with this education can people begin to take responsibility, “If you know there are drug issues, and violence is present in your community, it is up to you to address these issues.”

Domestic violence can have dire consequences on the family unit. The World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations (WUCWO) have therefore launched a “campaign for the enhancement of the family” to address these impacts, as mentioned on their website.

Gladys maintained that “domestic violence cannot be tolerated if a family is to live a normal life.  There has to be tolerance and understanding, and when this is not there, a family is always in disarray.”

There is the assumption that domestic violence is only physical, but “we should recognise also that domestic violence is not always physical. Many times, one member can be controlling and lack any idea of the damage being done,” Gladys explained.

Pru Goward MP, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, will be a keynote speaker at the conference.

“It is a great privilege to have the Minister, Prue Goward MP, with us on this occasion, and it is hoped in her address she will be able to give hope and perhaps some solace where that need exists,” Gladys said.

Sr. Hilda Scott OBE, Benedictine Sister from the Monastery at Jamberoo will also speak at the conference, as well as Pat McDermott, Australian Women’s Weekly columnist of more than 30 years, Jennifer Burn from the Faculty of Law University of Technology, and Ken Smith OAM, historian from the Parramatta Historical Society.

Jennifer Burn, director of Anti-Slavery Australia will speak about the prevalence of human trafficking in Australia. 

In February of this year, the ‘Child not Bride’ campaign was launched, and both Jennifer Burn and Pru Goward MP spoke, focusing on young women and community leaders from multicultural communities. 

This campaign has been supported by fact sheets translated into Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Nepalese and Hindi, “signifying the spread and range of growth in the community in general and the Parramatta area in particular in recent years,” Gladys reasoned.

Both women and men are welcome to attend the conference. “We would encourage anyone to attend, especially those interested (and wanting to learn) about the issues presented,” Gladys said.

The conference will open with the celebration of the Eucharist. Registration is open to all, as is the Mass on Tuesday evening, commencing at 6pm. Light Refreshments will be served in the Cloisters Hall after the Mass.

For more information about the conference, please visit: or phone Pauline O'Malley on (02) 4358 1801.



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