As hairdressers, we know how important the role we play in our clients' daily lives can be. We see each other multiple times a year - building close relationships, even lifelong friendships - as a result of shared moments on the salon floor.
This knowledge was the starting point for our partnership with Victoria-based charity, HaiR-3Rs. We'd heard about the amazing work that project coordinator Mel Broere was doing through the HaiR-3Rs initiative to empower our salon community. Their hands-on approach to ending violence against women through educating salon professionals resonated with us immediately.
Through financial and physical donations, we can support HaiR-3Rs in taking their important work out to a broader network - through our own circle of influence as well as in a more national sense. Our donations assist the team in organising a national virtual workshop for salon professionals to join free of charge early next year. More to follow!
We interviewed Mel last week to get her insights into HaiR 3Rs. Her knowledge and insights, along with the shocking statistics behind family violence and abuse in Australia, will give you a much greater understanding of why the work of HaiR-3Rs is so vital - and how everyone (not just salon professionals) can help end violence against women.
Mel, tell us how you got involved with the initiative + why
Like many people, I grew up in a time when there was a lot of misinformation about family violence – that it’s just physical violence or a private matter between two people. I strongly believe that ending violence against women starts with education, at a community level. I started working in the Education and Training team at FVREE (formerly Eastern Domestic Violence Service) in 2018. One of my first projects was the pilot program of HaiR-3Rs. It was amazing to witness the incredible relationship between salon professionals and their clients, and how this trust can be harnessed to have conversations about family violence. The program was supposed to finish after 6 months, but the demand from the hair and beauty industry for family violence training was so great, I knew we had to keep going even without funding.
What was the impetus behind setting up HaiR-3Rs
In Australia, one woman is still killed every nine days due to family violence. Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of death, disability and ill health of women aged between 25 and 44, and one in four women have experienced family violence since age 15. Despite these high statistics, women experiencing abuse are unlikely to seek help from a family violence service in the first instant – they’re more likely to tell someone they trust. Many women have a bond of trust with their hairdresser or beauty therapist, often staying with the same salon professional for years and disclosing things they never tell anyone else, including violent or controlling behaviour at home. HaiR-3Rs was created to give salon professionals the confidence to handle family violence when it comes up in the chair and help guide women experiencing abuse to professional help and support. For many, this can be lifesaving.
Who are some of the advocates?
We are lucky to have five incredible ambassadors: Adrian Panayiotis (Delilah Hair Studio), Charlene Fernandez (Charlene Fernandez Hair), Jenni Tarrant (House of Bond), Zowie Evans (Zowie Evans Hair) and Claire Corkill. They are all salon owners who have completed training and help champion our program by providing key connections, and support with promotions such as media requests or donations of their time and resources.
What are the main objectives of HaiR-3Rs?
Due to the intimate nature of hair and beauty work, salon professionals are well placed to spot signs of family violence or have it come up in conversation with clients. The objective of HaiR-3Rs is to give salon professionals the skills and confidence to take action when this happens by using the 3Rs framework:
RECOGNISE signs of family violence
RESPOND to disclosures, and ask about potential warning signs
REFER to specialist services offering supportWhat 3 things do you want salons to get out of the program?
- You don’t need the perfect response to talk about family violence – just listening, believing and giving an emphatic response can have a powerful impact on someone experiencing abuse
- Your role isn’t to act like a counsellor – rather than taking care of someone on your own, your role is to make clients aware of where they can get professional help, if they choose to. There are fantastic national services like 1800 RESPECT which offer 24/7 advice, counselling and support for family violence. Salon professionals can also call for advice if they think a client might be dealing with family violence
It’s not as easy as just leaving – the most common thing said to victim-survivors of family violence is to ‘just leave.’ Through training, salon professionals learn the complex reasons and barriers that make leaving a violent relationship so difficult, and why understanding this when speaking to clients is so important
Feel good story from the program so far?
As family violence can happen to anyone, we know it’s not just clients who experience abuse. We received a message from a salon professional who was in a violent relationship at the time of doing our training. She had been in this situation for eight years and had tried to leave several times. After training, she had the strength to leave for the last time and she and her children are now living safely. It’s stories like those that keep us going. The value of this training is that it can be used to support anyone – clients, friends, family or community members.
Are there any other ways that salon owners can support HaiR-3Rs?
- First and foremost, book a training for your team! We believe in a whole-salon approach – it’s easier to respond to family violence when all staff know what to do and can support each other. Our training is available to anyone working in hair, beauty, barbering or personal services in Australia. It’s run online for anyone outside Melbourne and can be booked on a day or time of your choosing.
- Follow HaiR-3Rs on Instagram and Facebook – we share videos, tips and information on family violence. It’s a great way to learn more about how to help clients if you’re not able to come to training.
Are there any ways that clients/ customers can help
Our program has been running for almost five years with no government or ongoing funding. You can help us provide training by donating through GiveNow. You can also purchase Delilah hair creams or a Stop Killing Women tote bag, with proceeds going to our program.
What's next for HaiR 3Rs
Salon professionals are busy people and lack of time can be a barrier for coming to training, so we are developing an introductory e-learning module, as well as new resources & videos to support salons to stand against family violence.
Make sure to keep an eye on our website for the launch: www.hair3rs.org.au