Catholic conference targets domestic violence

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NSW Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward. Photo: Brendan Esposito/Fairfax Media
NSW Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward. Photo: Brendan Esposito/Fairfax Media

Catholic women from across Australia pledged at a recent conference to fight the scourge of domestic violence.

More than 220 delegates attended the 47th Catholic Women’s League Australia national conference at Parramatta last month.

Pru Goward, the nation’s first Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault spoke on the government’s strong position on domestic violence, which had been reinforced by newly-minted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The session concluded with a screening of the film The Nice House, a documentary which tells the powerful story of Rosie Batty and her 11-year-old son Luke, who was murdered by his father in February 2014.

The film drew its name from a comment Rosie made to the media in the wake of the tragedy: “family violence happens to everybody, no matter how nice your house is, how intelligent you are, it happens to anyone and everyone.”

Earlier, Parramatta diocesan administrator Fr Peter Williams presided the opening Mass of the conference at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, concelebrating with dean Fr Robert Bossini, national chaplain Fr David Orr osb, and West Australian chaplain Fr Laurence Murphy.

Sr Hilda Scott osb, vocations director for the Benedictine Abbey at Jamberoo, spoke on prayer, while journalist, author and Australian Women’s Weekly columnist Pat McDermott addressed the conference on the subject of family.

Associate Professor Jennifer Burn from the UTS law faculty and director of Anti-Slavery Australia spoke on human trafficking.

Delegates passed a range of motions, including on the prevention of domestic and family violence and prevention of youth suicide.

The conference was an opportunity to strengthen ties with Catholic Women’s League New Zealand, with the organisation’s Aotearoa president Kay Blackburn and members Tui Pasco and Carolyn Johns in attendance

National president-elect Anne Marie Clark and the incoming executive from South Australia will assume their roles from 1 January.