Anti-domestic violence advocate Kimberly James. Photo Sherele Moody / APN NewsDesk
Anti-domestic violence advocate Kimberly James. Photo Sherele Moody / APN NewsDesk Sherele Moody

Volunteers make a difference in a world of violence

KIMBERLY James is fighting a seemingly endless war.

The 42-year-old Caloundra business owner's dreams of society efficiently eradicating domestic violence died alongside her one of her close friends on February 2.

The friend's former partner has been charged with murdering the 39-year-old at the home she shared with her children.

The friend cannot be identified for legal reasons.

When she learnt of her friend's death, Ms James responded in the only way she knew how, spending hours organising a rally to be held on the steps of the city's courthouse two days later.

"My sister called me and told me about (the) death," Ms James said.

"My sister was devastated because she was incredibly close with her.

"So I'm sitting there going I have no idea how to support my sister or (the victim's) father and children.

"That's when I got on to Facebook and went 'right we need to hold a rally' - people have their skill sets and my skill set is organising things."

SIGN THE PETITION TO HELP END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

About 70 people, mainly women, took part in the silent protest, where the victim's Irish eyes watched over them from a series of family photographs.

Most were strangers and some joined after attending the court where they were dealing with the legalities of their own family violence cases.

"It wasn't for him (the accused), it wasn't for the (alleged) crime - it was actually about this amazing woman that had her life taken and to acknowledge that and nothing else," Ms James said.

A week after officiating at her friend's funeral, Ms James conceded domestic violence would be around for many generations to come.

And she fears the scourge will claim many more lives and countless others will be destroyed before the battle is over.

She says a significant shift in government funding and legislation must complement change in community attitudes toward victims and perpetrators.

Despite the almost insurmountable barriers, she is unwavering in her determination to make life better for the one in three Australian women who experience physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of their partners.

Kimberly James lays a flower down at the Red Rose Rally for Adelle Collins. Photo Vicki Wood / Caboolture News
Kimberly James lays a flower down at the Red Rose Rally for Adelle Collins. Photo Vicki Wood / Caboolture News Vicki Wood

Ms James is among thousands of women across Australia determined to do their bit to make the world a safer place.

Spending more than 10 hours a week advocating for change, organising protest marches and advising women how to safely leave abusive relationships, the mother of three regards her sacrifices as a small price to pay for the bigger picture.

Born into a loving stable family, Ms James learnt about domestic violence first-hand from her mother, Carol Samuels, who spent many years working in women's refuges.


She followed in Mrs Samuel's footsteps, choosing a career in child safety, youth justice and family reunification before going on to manage emergency accommodation for female victims of domestic violence.

When she and her husband Bernard opened their takeaway and laundry businesses she was determined to continue her domestic violence work on a voluntary basis.

She is a member of a number of groups devoted to keeping women and children safe including the Caboolture Regional Domestic Violence Service and women's groups Zonta and Soroptimist.

Ms James said the biggest battles included getting state and federal governments to boost crisis accommodation funding and changing legislation to make domestic violence a criminal issue not a civil one.

"I could go home and beat my husband and I get a piece of paper (from a court) basically asking me to be on my best behaviour for the next two years or the next year," she said.

"But if I go to the pub and beat someone up I'm in jail.

"So there's this disconnect between what as a community we think is OK and what is not.

"It needs to be a crime. We need to take it a lot more seriously."

She said domestic violence services and workers were being pushed to the edge.

"We need to stop reducing funding to domestic violence services because they are absolutely at the brink - they cannot accept more people, but they do," she said.

"And we have workers working in their own time to do work for women.

"I think when we start to see our government making decisions and actions that actually speak against domestic violence - not just setting up a taskforce - we might see some significant change."

Regardless of the hard yards ahead, Ms James remains firm in her belief that everyday people can create change.

"I'm a firm believer that bad things happen because good people don't do anything," she said.

"And if I don't do this, then who is going to?"

- APN NEWSDESK



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