About Project Safe Space

Project Safe Space was conceived as a pilot case study of wise practice for WIL (work-integrated learning), in journalism education.  One of three categories of wise practice (Engaged WIL, Event WIL, and Purpose WIL) the project was designed and developed as a ‘model of Purpose WIL as part of a research project investigating university led, on-campus WIL. 

Project Safe Space is an advocacy journalism initiative bringing together domestic violence survivors, community advocates, support workers, and Griffith journalism students in a focused advocacy journalism clinic. In addition, the Griffith Law School’s specialist elective course in domestic violence law engaged students and staff with Project Safe Space to openly and constructively discuss issues surrounding this most urgent contemporary social issue.

The project aimed to educate the community about issues surrounding domestic violence and to provide a voice for those directly and indirectly affected by domestic violence. At the same time, the project sought to provide journalism students with appropriate training in best-practice reporting and a better understanding of domestic violence issues. It also provided law students the opportunity to engage in a real way with the practical legal implications of existing laws surrounding domestic violence and to investigate possibilities for law reform in this area.

Project Partners:

As a Participatory Action Research project, adopting a constructivist epistemology that aligned with a ‘wise practice approach,’ the participation of key stakeholders was a necessary element.  While Project Safe Space is an initiative of the researcher, we recognise domestic violence is a much larger problem that extends to many different practical and research disciplines. We are working with community partners to better facilitate change. This ‘WIL with purpose’ (Purpose WIL), project provides not only learning opportunities for our students, but hopes to provide a significant service to vulnerable communities and their advocates. The project worked in conjunction with a number of stakeholders including:

  • Federal MP Terri Butler
  • Domestic Violence Action Centre (Ipswich)
  • DV Connect
  • Men’s Line
  • Bravehearts
  • Better Life Psychology
  • R.E.A.D Clinic
  • Griffith Law School
  • Grow Support Incorporated
  • Mentors in Violence Protection
  • Queensland Eidfest Association Inc.
  • Rachel Kayrooz – White Warrior Challenge

The project also worked with Department of Communities, Queensland Police Service, Legal Aid and other state agencies.

The Project Safe Space Journalism Student Component: Project Safe Space Journalism Clinic

Students working as part of the journalism component of the project  produced a series of feature articles, including images, audio and videos that provide domestic violence survivors and advocates with a voice. These stories aim to provide insight into some of the realities of intimate partner violence, and to highlight the misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding the actions and behaviours of those affected by domestic violence.

Journalism students carried out longer form research-based journalism on this issue, examining national and international trends, and delivering content to the program’s online, multi-platform portal supervised by Faith Valencia-Forrester, who devised the concept and oversaw journalism student contributions and involvement in the project.  Students participating in this project were required to attend a one-day induction and training seminar with key stake holders to prepare them to work in this space.  Students were also required to have participated in another model of wise practice, scaffolded learning referred to in the research report as Engaged WIL.

The Project Safe Space Law Student Component: Community education, Law Reform and Client Support

Students undertaking the law elective in Domestic Violence had an option to work with the community partners of Project Safe Space to provide support for clients and to explore opportunities for law reform in this area. The new generation of graduating lawyers who took part in this project were afforded unique insights into the issues surrounding domestic violence as a result of having worked closely with survivors, advocacy centres and our journalists in the preparation of information and materials relevant to domestic violence issues.

 Project Outcomes:

  • A unique Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) experience for both journalism and law students, working on real projects about this pressing contemporary social issue
  • The development of a body of media work – including videos, audio, feature stories and news stories – which will enhance student, staff and the broader community’s understanding of domestic violence, its causes and effects
  • The development of a body of work which are intended to feed in to broader public debates about recognised, necessary changes that will afford greater protection to victims and highlight initiatives designed to reduce the incidence of domestic abuse and related homicide
  • The contribution to media resources outlining appropriate journalistic practice and reporting guidelines for domestic violence related issues

Faith Valencia-Forrester 
Project Open Doors/Project Safe Space

Griffith University  | Nathan | QLD 4111 | N16_2.64
email faith.valencia-forrester@griffith.edu.au


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