Conversations on the Shadow Pandemic: Rosalie Rendu Forum 2021

Friday 22 October 2021

“We can’t prevent domestic violence unless we have accountability for the people who use it. Until we can have a conversation about male violence against women, we can’t address the complexity of the issue.”

With COVID-19 being recognised as a global pandemic at the beginning of 2020, a simultaneous shadow pandemic has taken place, resulting in increased rates of domestic and family violence.

During the first quarter of the financial year, impacted by the stay-at-home restrictions implemented throughout NSW, the Vinnies Services team experienced a 20 per cent increase in women and children seeking assistance.

In response, the 2021 Rosalie Rendu Forum brought together an acclaimed and diverse group of women for an in-depth discussion on the rising rates of domestic violence and its implications for women experiencing poverty.

Held during Anti-Poverty Week, the annual event, named in recognition of Sister Rosalie Rendu, took place virtually for the second consecutive year due to the continued challenges of COVID-19.

Following an Acknowledgment of Country from Lisa Buxton, in recognition of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, and a spiritual reflection from Brooke Simmons on the history of Sister Rosalie Rendu, host Padma Raman (CEO of Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety) introduced the theme of The Shadow Pandemic – understanding the intersectional relationship between domestic and family violence, gender and poverty.

Annabelle Daniel OAM, Chief Executive Officer of Women's Community Shelters; Christine Robinson, Coordinator of Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Community Legal Centre; and Rosemary Kariuki, winner of the Local Hero 2021 Australian of the Year award were the three key speakers on the evening.

Peita, a woman assisted by Vinnies, also spoke as part of the discussion to provide a primary insight as an advocate with lived experience of domestic violence.

Over the course of 90 minutes, a robust discussion was had on a range of issues including the national women’s safety summit, the NSW Government’s investment in refuges for women and children, educating the entire community – including perpetrators – in order to change behaviours, and the complexities in the understanding and management of domestic violence by police.

Insights from the night:

“People don’t choose to be poor; people don’t choose to live in poverty,” – Christine Robinson.

“No one can think straight or plan a future if they don’t know where they’re going to sleep. Housing is foundational to feeling safe, secure and getting out of survival mode” – Annabelle Daniel

“Education is the main key; talking openly and educating why it’s wrong to hit a human being” – Rosemary Kariuki

“Perpetrators aren’t held accountable for what they put people through and forced to understand what their actions do to victims” – Pieta

A networking session was held following the formal discussion which saw members, volunteers and staff across the Society reflect on the insights offered throughout the night.

Vinnies would like to thank Ms Kariuki, Ms Daniel, Ms Robinson, Ms Raman, Ms Buxton, Ms Simmons, Peita and the Social Justice Team for their involvement in another tremendous Rosalie Rendu Forum.

To view the 2021 Rosalie Rendu Forum, contact to access a recording of the event.

“We need to stop being bystanders. When you hear something, call triple zero. If all of us can do something and check on each other, extend that hand, we can get change.”


We provide a range of specialised services for women and their children escaping domestic violence. Find out more about Vinnies refuges and emergency domestic and family violence services