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NSW State Government in partnership with Darulfatwa Australia Host Major Seminar Successfully

Australia - NSW State Government and Darulfatwa Australia join forces to host major seminar on Domestic and Family Violence 

The NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) in partnership with Darulfatwa, the Islamic High Council of Australia, successfully hosted a Domestic and Family Violence religious and communities seminar on Wednesday April 26th, 2023 at Salamah College Hall. The seminar was attended by esteemed religious and community figures, school principals, teachers and staff, department officials, and a line-up of speakers and panelists.

The seminar aimed to provide guidance on referral pathways for both victims and offenders, information on legal processes after a DFV report is made, and an opportunity to up-skill leaders with legal and service information while providing access to DFV resources. The event was a significant step in raising awareness, providing support, and advocating for policies that promote safety and well-being for those affected by domestic and family violence.

Under the facilitation and moderation of 2MFM's Nadia Zahr, the seminar provided a valuable opportunity for attendees to engage in critical conversations about how to assist survivors, recognize indicators of domestic violence, and offer essential support. The seminar's agenda featured a series of speeches and presentations that delved into the issue of domestic and family violence, the effects of such violence on children, ways to work with victims, and the NSW religious leaders' declaration.

Among the distinguished speakers was His Eminence, Chairman of Darulfatwa, Professor Sheikh Salim Alwan, the nation's High Islamic Council. He shared his wisdom and successful efforts in promoting the values of a true Muslim, offering guidance in dispute resolution, and steering people away from the destructive effects of domestic and family violence.

His eminence, Dr. Sheikh Salim Alwan emphasized the importance of spreading goodness in society with fairness and kindness while forbidding abuse, harm, hateful violence, and extremism. 

He highlighted that in Islam, neighbours do not harm their neighbours, husbands do not harm their wives, and parents do not harm their children. These values protect the family and everyone in society. Shaykh Salim also emphasized that these teachings are not limited to Prophet Muhammad but are the teachings of all prophets. He stressed the importance of justice, charity, and kinship for everyone, including females, regardless of their roles in society.

Among the other speakers included Ms Aisha Akkawi, a counselor from the Jannawi Family Centre. Ms Akkawi spoke to us about the cycle of violence and the impact of domestic and family violence on children.

Ms Farah Assafiri, the Manager of South West Sydney Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services in Bankstown, Liverpool, and Fairfield presented a case study and asked the leaders in attendance to work together in their tables to answer questions about how they would respond to the situation. Each table was given time to discuss and report back on their discussion.

Ms. Anne Mangan, a Policy and Project Officer from the NSW Department of Communities and Justice spoke to the attendees about the NSW Religious Leaders DFV Guidelines and Declaration, which was signed by several groups, including Darulfatwa, at the NSW Parliament House in 2022. A video featuring Prof Sheikh Salim Alwan's message on DFV was also shared during the event.

The event also Crime Manager Inspector Mark Wakeham from the Auburn Police Area Command, who shared insights on the critical role of law enforcement in addressing domestic and family violence.

Additionally, there was a law and services panel consisting of representatives from NSW Police, Legal Aid, Victims Services, and DV Line. They included:

Acting Sergeant Carmen Nitchke from the Domestic Violence team at NSW Police

Anna Baltins, A/Associate Director of Domestic and Family Violence and Family Law at Legal Aid NSW (with a possible addition of solicitor Wael Skaf)

Kha Huynh, Community and Stakeholder Liaison Officer at Victims Services, Department of Communities and Justice

Kara Rae, Domestic Violence Line Team Manager at the Department of Communities and Justice.

During the panel discussion, the experts in domestic violence from various organizations provided insights into the support and assistance available for victims of domestic violence, using a hypothetical scenario involving a victim named Sara.

Mr. Haj Mohamad Chams, the Manager of Darulfatwa-High Islamic Council of Australia, delivered the concluding speech and extended an invitation to the participants to relish a sumptuous Mediterranean buffet lunch arranged by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice. The lunch was followed by informal conversations and group photographs.

In conclusion, the seminar organized by the Department of Communities and Justice in partnership with Darulfatwa Australia highlighted the critical need for immediate and concerted efforts to combat domestic and family violence. The event emphasized the shared responsibility of all individuals, organizations, and communities in addressing this issue with compassion and determination. It is vital that we continue to work together and take swift action to achieve safer homes and communities for all individuals affected by domestic and family violence.

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