SEX workers, survivors of domestic violence, homeless people and drug users are some of the people that Theresa Caruana advocates for.
The University of New England student has an impressive history of helping those in need and has been awarded the Sabine Altman scholarship from the Armidale Zonta Club as a result.
Ms Caruana said her motivation comes from a passion for social justice.
“I understand the debilitating effects of stigma, shame and self-blame that can make it difficult for people to see relationship dynamics as violent, or to heal, or seek help,” she said.
“People with complex needs including substance abuse, mental health issues, disability or poverty are further at risk of victimisation and need holistic supports.”
In 2001 Ms Caruana completed a Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies and examined literary representations of sexual violence.
Domestic violence is more often than not violence by men against women, it’s about power and dominance and would not be prevalent if gender equality really existed.- Theresa Caruana
From there she went on to work in the community health and safety sector, first with sex workers as part of the Sex Workers Outreach Project and then worked with vulnerable young people and substance abusers.
“I was a consultant and community safety project worker for many years at the City of Sydney Council,” Ms Caruana said.
“Most of it was about ensuring safety for the public but I also created a reference booklet for police with details of services for incidents of domestic violence.”
An Australian Youth Ambassador for the UN Women’s office in Bangkok, much of Ms Caruana’s work has been focused on helping women and families.
Ms Caruana said one of the biggest issues with domestic violence is that it often goes unreported.
“Domestic violence is more often than not violence by men against women, it’s about power and dominance and would not be prevalent if gender equality really existed,” she said.
“Much of the fight against violence against women is about equality, and this is at the core of the work I wish to continue doing in the future, whether in crisis response services or in violence prevention.”
Zonta Area Three director Linda Andrews said that Ms Caruana was chosen for the scholarship for her impressive work in the field of domestic violence.
“She had done so much and she seemed so passionate, it really was a worthwhile application,” she said.
The Sabine Altman scholarship was created in honour of the northern regions Domestic Violence Coordinator for social work students.
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