As hairdressers, you have a vital and personal role, where you often create long-term, emotional relationships with your clients, are physically close to them and are a trusted source of advice, often stretching beyond hair. Hairdressers learnt how to utilise this relationship to help clients experiencing family violence at a free seminar, titled Safe Hands, conducted at Hair Expo. Attendees came from every Australian state as well as New Zealand to gain these valuable insights, with more than 200 attending and 600 more views on social media afterwards.
The illustrious panel was made up of Eastern Domestic Violence Service (EDVOS) representative Jenny Jackson, Safe Steps 24/7 Helpline employee Amelia Stone, It’s Not OK Amabassador and hairdresser Natasha King, counsellor, ambassador and salon owner Jenni Tarrant and anti-violence campaigner and hairdresser Zoe Wilde. The insights showcased by these women could prove genuinely life-saving.
“The attendance and online response proves that hairdressers need and want to know how to handle a situation in salon when the client is in need because of violence at home,” said event organiser Leanne Cutler. “Just yesterday I heard from a hairdresser who had a client die at the hands of her ex-partner. Sadly, it really does happen and hairdressers want to sleep at night knowing that they’ve said and done the right thing.”
Pivotal points included an overview of the 3 Rs – to recognise, respond and refer if you notice signs of family violence occurring for your clients. The panel also illustrated the correct way to approach each of these steps, noting that there is definitely a right and wrong way to address these very delicate issues. They also warned not to ask the clients why they don’t just leave, as this is not only unhelpful and so often impossible for the women, but also seen as victim blaming. Women are largely most at risk in the short months after they leave these situations, and fear, the threat of real harm, financial considerations and emotional abuse and manipulation stand in the way in these difficult ordeals. The panel showed the sobering stats that one in six Australian households are affected by family violence – this is a national epidemic that hairdressers can do their part to help, one case at a time.
The seminar gained national traction, with features on ABC Radio National and Channel 9 that spoke about this revolutionary and important concept in educating hairdressers to use their personal connections in a communication driven industry to truly tackle this national epidemic. A subsequent feature on the Today Show the following day was watched in droves nationally both on TV and online.
Currently, EDVOS is running free training for salon professionals through the Victorian State grant and are currently campaigning the Federal Government to fund a national salon professional training program. The program has been delivered to 150 hairdressers and counting, and students have reported using these skills and their increased confidence to support clients within weeks.
Clearly this is just the beginning for this excellent initiative, showing that hairdressers really are super heroes and addressing a problem that needs serious fixing in Australia. Well done.
View the seminar below:
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