Theatre tackles domestic violence

Multicultural Health team leader Dipti Zachariah (left) with performers from the Punjabi community.

Blacktown Hospital has hosted the premiere performance of a theatre project to help challenge perceptions and change behaviours concerning domestic violence in culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The participatory project was created by Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) and launched during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence after years of work bringing the idea to life.

WSLHD Multicultural Health partnered with Harman Foundation to research the play, guided by the input of more than 100 men, women and young people to identify the attitudes and issues contributing to domestic and family violence.

It is designed to question community attitudes towards women including traditional gender roles and expectations, recognise the role of bystanders, and encourage viewers to collectively take a stand against domestic violence.

The performance is the brainchild of Multicultural Health team leader Dipti Zachariah, who explains the idea is to have communities lead the response to domestic violence.

“Participatory theatre is powerful because the audience is not simply a casual observer. They are intimately involved in the performance, making it all the more real and effective,” Dipti said.

“The script writers, actors and crew are all from the local Punjabi community, which adds authenticity and ownership to the production.

“Our hope is other community groups will be able to host their own version with content that is relevant to their specific culture.”

The play was born out of the community-led domestic violence prevention project ‘Rich Cultures Should Have Rich Relationships’, which focused on Punjabi and South Sudanese communities.

The communities are involved at every step of the way in identifying issues and jointly working on solutions.

The project has also created an educational module, and more materials are in the works for 2021 including video clips and digital resources.

The second performance was at Parklea Public School on Sunday 13 December, and more are planned for 2021.

Anyone who requires support should contact:

  • NSW Domestic Violence line, for counselling, referral or support on 1800 656 463;
  • Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling service for victims, families, friends and workers on 1800 RESPECT (737 732); or
  • Men’s Referral Service for men who use violence or their friends and family on 1300 766 491 or

In an emergency always call triple zero (000).