27 Sep 2018

Debra Swann


In Australia, Deaf survivors of domestic violence have very limited access to support services. It is a common challenge for these survivors to seek the same access as hearing people to emotional support, healthcare, legal information and other services they require. 

Debra Swann, a Croydon Park local and herself a survivor of domestic violence, has received a Churchill Fellowship because of her motivation to travel overseas and bring back ideas for improving access to domestic violence support services for all survivors in the community. 

Debra will travel to the USA, United Kingdom and France to research Deaf specific services that seek to end domestic and sexual violence in Deaf communities through empowerment, education and services.

Debra, a social worker in the Deaf sector, as well as a Family Support Coordinator and Auslan (Australian Sign Language) teacher, has always held a passion for improving access to services for Deaf survivors of domestic violence.  

“My passion for this area comes from my personal experience. I am a survivor of domestic violence and when I made contact for help to escape, no one could help me because of my deafness. I was stuck in the situation for another 18 months,” said Debra. 

“My Fellowship will open up a lot of opportunities in Australia to improve the domestic violence field for the Deaf community and working with mainstream organisations to ensure access for all,” said Debra.

“I am looking forward to meeting people overseas who work in this field and seeing how they set up and provide services in the Deaf community. 

“When I return to Australia, I am determined to set up a program, Deaf Survivors of Domestic Violence, which will aim to enable Deaf people to access the same services as hearing people. 

“I hope to work with police and other services to help develop their understanding of how domestic violence affects and impacts on the Deaf community. I also intend to work with young people to increase their knowledge about healthy relationships and the different layers of domestic violence.”   

“This is a prime opportunity for Debra bring back to Australia innovative ideas to make support resources more accessible to Deaf survivors of domestic violence,” said Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. 

“The Churchill Fellowship recognises new ideas, like Debra’s. It is a celebration of expertise, innovation, expanding knowledge and creating new and better ways of addressing issues that matter in Australia.” 

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