Standing up against family and domestic violence

By Celeste Larkins

1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their partner in their lifetime (World Health Organisation, 2017).

On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner in Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience violence at higher rates than non-Indigenous women (Our Watch, 2017).

With family and domestic violence a major issue worldwide, in Australia, and the area we work in the Mid West of Western Australia, we jumped at the chance to help a local women’s health organisation with a community campaign. The local project called Community, Respect and Equality, run by women’s health organisation, Desert Blue Connect, identified local champions in the community who wanted to speak out against family and domestic violence.

We worked with the champions and helped them develop radio messages that were broadcast on local community and commercial radio stations. I also had the privilege of working with one of the champions to record a video for social media (see below).

There is something very powerful when community come together and work towards positive change.

Empowering stories

By Dane Waters

One of the many strengths of community media is being able to record local stories addressing local issues. A great example of this is in Geraldton, Western Australia, with a video project aimed at addressing the stigma of mental health and suicide.

We are helping the Geraldton Suicide Prevention Action Group to share their personal stories about mental health to raise awareness in the region, as well as promoting a big project they are working on (the videos below say it all). By utilising social capital in the community, the story is spreading with more and more people hearing about the project and the reason behind it. As the project continues those involved are gaining confidence in spreading their story, which is empowerment in action.

To follow this journey, check out the Geraldton Suicide Prevention Action Group Facebook page here.

The Power of a Voice

By Celeste Larkins

Jason Bartlett, one of the powerful voices of the Bartlett Brothers (a well-known Indigenous band), a husband and a father of two daughters, sadly passed away in 2017.

I had the privilege of meeting Jason at Royal Perth Hospital, after a local partner organisation, the Western Australia Centre for Rural Health (WACRH), at the request of Jason, asked HCR to produce a film sharing Jason’s story.

His words “There is no future, that’s it, at an early age I’m going, 36 years old and I’m looking down the barrel of a gun,” were a harrowing reminder that Jason only had weeks to live due to complications relating to diabetes.

Jason was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 19, and due to lack of information and mismanagement of the condition his health deteriorated. He lost his vision because of glaucoma, developed foot ulcers that wouldn’t heal and had heart and kidney failure which ultimately led to his death.

Knowing he didn’t have long left to live, Jason wanted to share his story urging Australians to look after their health, especially looking at their alcohol consumption. He stated that if he could go back in time he would “never have touched the bottle (alcohol).”

Jason passed away nine days after the video was filmed, and what happened next is a testament to how powerful one person’s message can be.

Honourable Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, launched the film Passing on Wisdom: Jason’s Diabetes Story at an event on Saturday 9th December, where reporters from various commercial stations were present.

  Left to right: Lenny Papertalk from WACRH, Minister Ken Wyatt and Celeste Larkins

 Left to right: Lenny Papertalk from WACRH, Minister Ken Wyatt and Celeste Larkins

That night, Jason’s story was shared on all the commercial WA state news programs, as well as some at a national level. His story was shared on a few of these commercial stations’ Facebook pages, with over 49 000 views, 470 shares and 440 likes or interactions. ABC Radio National shared Jason’s story, as well as the National Indigenous Radio Services and the Community Radio Network. To make his story more accessible we developed a radio component, which many community stations have broadcast. Jason’s story was published on several news sites.

From what started as a low-key production intending to be shared within Jason’s family and their networks, the film ended up travelling far and wide and reaching more people than anticipated. I even received a phone call from a community station in Yarralin (a small remote Aboriginal community, 705kms from Darwin) thanking me for producing a radio component as it meant their community had access to a powerful message that affects many Indigenous Australians.

Although Jason has passed, his story will remain and hopefully inspire us all to assess our lifestyles and improve our health to live life to the fullest and enjoy time with our loved ones. His story has reached across Australia, and will continue to be a powerful tool to raise awareness about diabetes. The video and radio component would not have been possible without funding from WACRH, support in its launch from Honourable Minister Ken Wyatt, and most importantly support from Jason’s wife and family.

Please help the project by watching the video and sharing it with your friends and family.


Stories Promote Peace in Eastern Kenya

By Jon Hargreaves

“I never realised how the Orma people came to be in this region of Kenya,” said a retired teacher from Tana River, “but since I started hearing their stories on the radio, I have begun to understand them better.”

The man, from a rival community, was responding to a series of cultural programmes he had heard on a new station set up by HCR and its partners, Amani (Peace) FM, in this conflict-affected region of eastern Kenya.  The programmes are made by Mole Hashako Yako, a community activist, teacher and social historian.  The Orma people of Tana River don’t have a written history, so Mole has been talking to elderly people in her community who have a rich knowledge about the past, and then telling their stories on the radio.

“Telling stories about our past, not only helps young people in the Orma community understand their roots and identity, but it also helps promote empathy and understanding between the communities,” she said.  “Once you hear someone else’s story, you humanise them and begin to understand them.”  Although there has been conflict particularly between the pastoralist Orma and agriculturalist Pokomo communities in recent years, Mole points to the past and to a time when the two communities lived side-by-side in peace and harmony.  She believes the past will help the communities connect with the future, where Tana River can be peaceful and prosperous.

 Mole Hashako Yako: Telling stories promotes empathy and understanding between communities.

Mole Hashako Yako: Telling stories promotes empathy and understanding between communities.

Amani FM was established in August ahead of Kenya’s controversial elections in an effort to promote peace and build on and complement the work of Una Hakika which has been combatting rumours and misinformation since 2013.

John Green, the Director of Una Hakika, who is also chairman of the board of Amani FM, says that without a shadow of a doubt, Amani FM has contributed to peace at a time when there were many rumours circulating, which could have resulted in violence.  During focus groups conducted this week, among different communities, John says people appreciated how well Amani FM had advocated for peace and that how integrating the work of Una Hakika and the radio has produced a powerful model of using technology and relationships to foster peace and development.

A mother, but still a child

Early marriage is a major obstacle for girls in acquiring education and has many physical, social and psychological implications. The girls are forced into this cycle of poverty, inequality and illiteracy.

One of the solutions to assist girls to escape discriminatory customary practices like early child marriage is providing education and skill building opportunities. Education is the most valuable asset and ultimately empowers the girls to reach their fullest potential.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which define global development include target 5.3 ‘Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilations’ (under Goal 5 ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’).

HCR faces these issues in some of the communities in which we work. Recently, in a village in Pakistan, an HCR associate was confronted with child marriage at a women’s empowerment session. A girl, aged 15, had an eighteen month old baby and was married to a 45 year old man. She is a mother, when she herself is still a child. In a culture that tends to be patriarchal, the birth of a son is celebrated as boys are considered assets who will provide support for ageing parents, whereas a daughter is often considered a liability. This traditional culture, along with poverty, reinforces practices like early child marriages.

At HCR we continue to work towards the education of girls and women all over the world and target many of the underlying issues that keep them in a cycle of poverty.