In response to the growth of domestic and family violence in Australia, the Zonta Club of Brisbane in 2001 embarked on a long-term project to help reduce the incidence of family violence in the greater Brisbane area. The project involved designing and printing credit-card sized cards listing emergency numbers and services for women escaping domestic violence, and distributing the cards through relevant agencies. The card is a discreet tangible resource which is both empowering and reassuring as a source of information and a link to safety for women and children escaping domestic violence.
The cards were first produced in 2001 for distribution through the Northside Alliance Against Domestic Violence (NAADV) which works out of the Nundah Community Centre in close collaboration with local police. A second edition of the Safety Card was produced for NAADV in 2003 and launched during Domestic Violence Prevention Week. The Club agreed to fund a third edition in late 2006 with payment made to NAADV for this edition during the 2007-2008 Zonta year. The fourth edition was funded in 2009 as part of this on-going partnership. Subsequently, editions are published approximately every two years with updated resources, contacts and information.
Several other projects were initiated in 2006 and 2007.
(i) The Club produced a specific edition for BRISSC (Brisbane Rape and Incest Survivors’ Support Centre) which serves Brisbane’s southern suburbs using the same template and production process which had been refined through the two NAADV editions.
(ii) With northern and southern districts of Brisbane covered, the Club set about identifying an agency in the eastern suburbs with which it could work to develop an edition specific to those suburbs. The Maybanke Accommodation and Crisis Support Services were chosen and the cards launched in late 2006.
(iii) In December 2006, the Club agreed to fund production of an edition of the card to be developed in collaboration with the Ipswich Women’s Shelter, in order to extend the cards to the Western suburbs. This project was finalised in 2007.
(iv) In 2007, an edition of the card was produced specifically for Indigenous women through Murri Sisters Inc. This project was finalised in 2008.
(v) In 2009, the Brisbane Domestic Violence Advocacy Service on Brisbane’s southside was provided with 40,000 cards.
The project produced a number of valuable spin-offs. First, the police service, recognising the value of the cards, contributed significantly to the reprints for NAADV. Second, the obvious value of the cards led to the Club producing 10,000 leaflets in English and a further 10,000 in Tok Pisin for distribution in PNG in 2004 to combat domestic violence. Third, the southside safety card project grew into support for BRISSC’s CRUISE project (Creative Resources for Understanding Issues of Self Harm) in 2006.
The aim was that, having been established by the Brisbane Club, the individual projects would become self-supporting as the agencies were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the resource when making approaches to various sources for funding.
The burden on the Northside Alliance was reduced significantly by the production of cards by an agency in Caboolture, and the Brisbane Club hoped that other Zonta clubs in the Greater Brisbane Area would take up support of the projects begun by the Brisbane Club.
The Safety Cards fulfil one of the core objectives of Zonta and have proven to be one of the Club’s most worthwhile and far-reaching projects in recent years, with the benefit being felt by thousands of women and at least one known instance of a life being saved directly by the card.
Other clubs have become involved and the Zonta Club of Brisbane now supports the Northside Alliance Against DV. The Club currently shares the production costs of the cards with the QPF (North Brisbane District Vulnerable Persons and Domestic Violence Unit). Current cards are credit card size and made available to women who may be the victims of domestic violence. The telephone numbers of relevant organisations who help women experiencing domestic violence are printed on the cards. The Project involves printing of new cards and some promotional posters. The project is undertaken approximately every two years.
In 2019, due to increased demand, the Zonta club of Brisbane raised its contribution so that Northside Alliance Against DV could increase card numbers to 100,000 and posters to 250.