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Jessica Aulich wins Winston Churchill Scholarship

Martina Taliano

There is no doubt in any person’s mind that domestic violence is an issue that can enter anyone’s life, at anytime. This is not a new fact but the levels of community support, discussions in the media and a heightened outrage has brought what was once deemed a private issue into the spotlight, which is a great thing.

The Winston Churchill Trust aims to provide opportunities for Australians to travel overseas to conduct research in their chose field and has this year chosen to support research into domestic violence by awarding Canberra woman Jessica Aulich with the Winston Churchill Scholarship in 2015.

Jessica_Aulich_graduation

A strong advocate for social justice, Jessica has worked in the ACT community sector for a number of years and recently completed her Bachelor of Social Sciences with a focus on Justice Studies at the University of Canberra.

Jessica despairs at the national cuts to homelessness and women’s services, which has seen the closure of many support services for women escaping domestic violence and the loss of longer-term programs that were once established to connect women to their communities while providing much needed advice at critical times. Rather than throwing her hands in the air she decided to do something about it and applied for the scholarship.

“The amount of public awareness raised in relation to the high number of deaths of women at the hands of their partners is encouraging as it demonstrates a readiness for our community to look at this issue,” she says.

“We can do so much more to support people who live in violent relationships and if we consider the death count this year, we absolutely need to. I believe Australians would like to be seen as a progressive society but in relation to this issue, unfortunately we are not. We need to know how to do this better and drawing lessons from innovations and successes overseas may contribute to our growing momentum in this area.”

There are some countries that manage their social issues much better than others, for example Europe’s Finland in comparison to South America’s Mexico. And yet, while Australia in many ways is so advanced we still have so much to gain from looking into the way that other countries manage their responses to domestic violence including what has and hasn’t worked well.

To this end Jessica will visit the Vienna Intervention Centre in Austria, New York City’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and California’s Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

“I have selected three different countries with unique and progressive approaches to domestic violence,” explains Jessica. “These jurisdictions share similarities of culture to Australia as well as their willingness to share information and learn from each other.”

Upon her return Jessica will collate her research and learnings to uncover the problems surrounding domestic violence and draw lessons to improve the outcomes for victims in Australia. Dr Andrew Leigh, Federal Member of Parliament, who plans to assist Jessica in disseminating her ideas through meetings with policymakers, peak bodies and the larger media, supported her application and is interested in providing a platform for her to share her findings upon her return.

The Winston Churchill Fellowship is a highly competitive scholarship allocated to ‘ordinary Australians with extraordinary abilities and aspirations’.

While Jessica is far from ordinary, she is most definitely someone you will be hearing more about in the future, that’s for sure!

From the HerCanberra Team, congratulations Jessica!

  • Jess- you have always been amazing, & now you are amazing+100. Enjoy your journey & I look forward to following your new adventure 🙂

  • Tahlia

    Jess used to be at my school a few years ago always helped when needed 🙂 always put others first before herself she so kind and warm hearted person hope all is well for you Jess all the best 🙂

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