Domestic violence action advocate Mirjana Wilson will join the board of Canberra’s Conflict Resolution Service, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge about combining service skills and changing the community conversation around conflict. Mirjana was the Chief Executive Officer of the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) for seven years, stepping down in December to pursue other interests and career challenges.
Under her leadership, DVCS evolved from a provider of frontline services to people in crisis to a thought leader on social change around domestic and family violence. DVCS now provides a wide range of services, recognising that all family members can be impacted by domestic violence and will benefit from help and support. The national conversation about domestic violence initiated by Rosie Batty was part of the DVCS prompt to action on advocacy. So was the horror stretch in 2015 when three Canberra women were murdered by their partners and a man was killed by his stepson. The victims included Tara Costigan, who was killed in front of her children with an axe while holding her newborn baby. Significant developments to evolve from their advocacy included an intensive men’s behaviour program called Room for Change for perpetrators of domestic violence, and the implementation of Voices for Change in partnership with the YWCA. Voices for Change trains survivors to become advocates who share their stories with the public and the media. It’s this kind of innovative thinking that is attractive to the Conflict Resolution Service which is in the midst of a similar transition towards becoming a leading voice on conflict resolution and justice processes in the ACT. Conflict Resolution Service board chair Clive Rodger describes Mirjana’s work to date as “a quiet revolution in the community’s knowledge of and attitude to domestic and family violence”. “She is deeply committed to finding effective ways to address anger and conflict in family and community contexts and will add considerably to the skill set and vigour of the Board,” he said. “It’s a delight to welcome Mirjana to the CRS Board.” The community context is very much what is attractive to Mirjana, too. She says she has been watching the quietly effective work that CRS does for years and is excited about coming on board at a time of change and growth for the organisation. “It’s vital that people in our community have access to mediation and conflict resolution services when they are at their most vulnerable and that these services are provided by a professional organisation, such as CRS, that understands their needs,” Mirjana said. “I am very much looking forward to being a part of an organisation that values and understands people’s lives in the context of their families, their work and their community.” CRS chief executive officer Mel Haley said that as well as Mirjana’s skills with governance and administration, her experience with innovation and meeting the community where their needs are were particularly attractive. “She is a valued member of the Canberra community and we are extremely lucky to have someone of her calibre join our team,” she said.