Chelsea Fleming says being an “ear” is part of her role as a hairdresser.
Having styled, coloured and brushed thousands of manes during her eight years in the role, the Koko Hairdressing salon manager says additional training in domestic violence awareness would add to her skill set.
Chelsea and her team join hundreds of hairdressers in the Hunter being offered training about the warning signs and dynamics of domestic and family violence as part of an innovative approach to raising community awareness and supporting victim-survivors.
Having the tools to assist clients is particularly beneficial to new staff, Chelsea says.
“I think training on women facing domestic violence is definitely needed in our industry as our clients have a level of trust with us and generally tell us things they may not even be comfortable telling others,” she says.
“We are an ear for them to vent a lot of the time and we aren’t here to judge them.
“I think it would especially be good for the younger hairdressers or apprentices as they would then have the tools on how to respond.
“I would have loved to have this sort of training when I was an apprentice as I wouldn’t have known how to handle these situations.”
Newcastle-based Australian Hairdressing Council Chief Executive, Sandy Chong, who is also the owner of Suki Hairdressing, says hairdressers often listen to the problems of their clients and offer a sympathetic ear.
“It comes with the job, so the workshops can help them know what to do if a client does disclose to them that they are experiencing domestic violence,” she says.
“I would hope for at least 1,000 Hunter hairdressers to take up the opportunity to attend these workshops.
“Ninety-five per cent of our industry is female so there’s a fair chance we have victims within our own workplaces.”
The series of seven workshops to take place in the Hunter will be managed by the Co-operative Legal Service Delivery (CLSD) program, funded by Legal Aid NSW.
Hairdressers will hear directly from local domestic and family violence experts at the training workshops to understand the types of support that can help those affected by domestic and family violence.
Legal Aid NSW CEO Brendan Thomas says co-ordinating a program such as this is an innovative way of engaging with people needing legal support.
“The easier it becomes for women and children to gain the full protection of the law, the greater progress we will make in eradicating violence in families,” he says.
For workshop information, email the Co-operative Legal Service Delivery Program [email protected].
For confidential advice, support and referrals related to domestic and family violence, contact: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), The NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63) or the Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491).