Here at Stella Insurance, we’re passionate about partnering with organisations that are driving meaningful change for women. Since 2021, we’ve been proud to partner with the Women and Girl’s Emergency Centre (WAGEC), helping to platform the incredible work they do to end gender-based violence in Australia.
We know that our mission is bigger than insurance: we want to use our voice to shine a light on the structural issues causing domestic and family violence, homelessness and gender inequity.
To do just that, we recently launched the next stage of our partnership with WAGEC earlier this year. Now, we’re donating $5 from every new car insurance policy we sell to support WAGEC’s Donations Program.
And we’re not stopping there. With WAGEC’s annual fundraising event Walk for WAGEC fast approaching, we chatted with Chloe Sarapas, Director of Fundraising and Communities at WAGEC, to find out more about the domestic violence crisis in Australia and what practical steps we can all take to drive change.
When was the Walk For WAGEC fundraiser first launched? Where did the idea for the event come from?
“Walk for WAGEC began in May 2019 fuelled by the passion and determination of a group of WAGEC’s supporters who put their hands up to help organise the event. The idea addressed the need to raise funds for WAGEC’s programs for women and children in crisis, which rely on the generosity of community, corporate and philanthropic donations to go ahead. While raising vital funds, the event connects our vibrant community and harnesses their enthusiasm to create safe futures for women and children so that they can walk away from violence.
The first Walk for WAGEC called on the community to walk 5 or 10km to help women and children walk away from violence. Our initial goal was to raise $50,000 and thanks to the 234 supporters who joined us on the day we exceeded this target and raised $82,000 to support programs for children, women and families.”
How has the event grown and/or changed since the first Walk for WAGEC?
“Since 2019 Walk for WAGEC has grown exponentially: the number of participants and funds raised tripled in May 2021 when, after cancelling the event in 2020 due to COVID-19, we were able to gather, walk and raise funds for a second time to support women and children in crisis. In 2021 over 650 participants raised $264,000, which more than doubled the target we had set of $100,000. We were blown away by these efforts and deeply appreciative to our volunteers, fundraisers, donors, staff and clients who made this outcome possible.
In addition to growing the number of participants and the funds raised, we have also incorporated the option to run 10km and have been delighted to host a group of runners at the event in addition to our dedicated walkers. We have grown the virtual element, expanding the event’s geographic reach, with about 200 supporters participating virtually in 2021 compared to a handful in 2019.
This year for Walk for WAGEC 2022, we hope to host 1000 walkers and runners in person or virtually and have set our fundraising target at $250,000. While the event continues to expand in geographic reach, the number of participants and fundraising outcomes, Walk for WAGEC remains true to its original purpose of harnessing community support to raise vital funds so that women and children can walk away from violence.”
Why is the need to end domestic and gender-based violence more urgent than ever in 2022?
“Earlier this month, April 4th, Tarang Chawla, a domestic violence spokesperson, reported that 16 women had been killed by men in 2022 in Australia. He questioned: ‘Where is the outcry? Are women’s lives just not worth it?’ Ending gender-based violence is more urgent than ever in Australia.
On average in Australia, 1 woman each week is killed at the hands of an intimate partner. 1 in 3 women in Australia experiences some form of violence whether it be physical or sexual by a man they know (Our Watch). Many more are impacted by patterns of coercive control.
Gender-based violence, whether it be in the home or workplace, is a widespread problem in Australia. While we have seen positive actions taken by the government, in the National Plan to End Violence Against Women, and businesses with new domestic violence leave policies implemented, there is more that we can all do including addressing gender inequality in everyday life.
This includes breaking down gender stereotypes, being an active bystander to sexism and role modelling healthy relationships and consent.”
How has the pandemic changed or escalated Australia’s domestic violence crisis?
“The past two years due to the pandemic has gravely impacted experiences of domestic or family violence. Compounding impacts of COVID-19 mean women and families are needing pro-longed and multifaceted support.
WAGEC’s Chief Executive Officer, Helen Silvia states, ‘COVID-19 has added extra layers of complexity for people who are experiencing domestic or family violence including increased financial control and surveillance, greater domestic pressures on women such as childcare and household tasks and an overall feeling of social isolation.’”
How will funds raised from this event help WAGEC further its mission of helping women and children in crisis?
“Funds raised through Walk for WAGEC will help deliver WAGEC’s programs that enable women to build safe futures for themselves and their families. These programs include SEED, which nurtures the Social, Emotional, Educational and Developmental well-being of children and young people, ACCESS which builds women’s economic independence, counselling services, which nurture healing and recovery from trauma and gender-based violence prevention work that stops violence from happening in the first place.”
How can the Stella community get involved if they’re wanting to do more to support WAGEC?
“We still need help to reach our goal of raising $250,000, so if Stella customers want to get involved we would be grateful. If you’re a Stella customer and you want to join, you can:
- Register for Walk for WAGEC 2022.
- Set your fundraising target.
- Ask your community to donate by sharing your page with friends and family.
- Walk with us either virtually between 25th April and 1st May, or in Centennial Park, Sydney on Sunday 1st May 2022.
Thank you sincerely for getting involved, with your help we can reach our goal.”