Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

Quiet Revolution: Mirjana Wilson

Laura Peppas

For our third magazine, the ‘Hidden Issue’, we wanted to shine the light on Canberra women on the forefront of social justice in our city. 

They’re the women bravely leading the charge against Canberra’s big issues: issues that while many are uncomfortable to talk about, are reaching devastating proportions in our city. With rising suicide, drug use and domestic violence rates, these women are fighting to ensure their cause doesn’t become another overlooked statistic. Meet six leaders starting their own quiet revolution.

It’s been a turbulent year for Mirjana Wilson. The violent death of Tara Costigan and a string of Canberra women hurled the Executive Director of the ACT Domestic Violence Crisis Service into the public eye; suddenly bringing to light the issue she had been tirelessly campaigning about for years.

“It [put] domestic violence front and centre in the public’s minds…but it’s always sad when it takes such a tragic event for it to get there,” Mirjana says.

Despite slowly changing attitudes, Mirjana believes there’s still a lot of shame and “judgement” surrounding domestic violence.

The staggering fact is it continues to be the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 years. And while the actual number of people affected and experiencing domestic violence in Canberra is difficult to know, in the 2014/15 financial year DVCS supported a record number of people through its 24/7 crisis line and direct crisis intervention with ACT Policing, with 17,697 crisis calls made – an increase from 11,250 five years ago.

“These are just the ones we know about,” says Mirjana. “The relevance of this for the ACT community is that it helps to makes the problem tangible and devastatingly real in a population of 380,000.”

Mirjana’s goal is to ensure more women seek support through services and programs provided by the Domestic Violence Crisis Service, including a 24/7 crisis line, civil and criminal court advocacy and case tracking, outreach for children and young people that have experienced domestic/family violence and therapeutic support groups that promote healing post violence.

“My ongoing challenge is for our sector to be taken seriously…there is a need for a comprehensive approach for achieving changes in community attitudes and behaviours related to violence against women,” she says.

“Alongside this is the relentless need to fight for funding and ensure that I am invited to have a seat at the table when policies and best practice programs are being conceived and implemented.”

“The constantness of this survival game can be exhausting but what always overrides and keeps me going is the passion – for social justice, for gender equity, for safety and support for all people affected by domestic/family violence.”

We’ll be releasing the women of Quiet Revolution’s stories individually over the coming weeks. You can read the article in full in our latest Magazine, available for free at these locations while stocks last. 

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Feature image by Martin Ollman

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Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author