Working in good faith

Jasbir Singh Suropada with the award. 182407_01 Picture: ROB CAREW

Jasbir Singh Suropada has been working tirelessly behind the scenes, debunking the most common myth across cultures: that faith agrees with the suppression of women.

Jasbir is the Founder and Director of Sikh Australia Support for Family Violence (SASFV), the Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria Chair and a senior parent resource coordinator for ParentZone and Anglicare Victoria.

He organises and facilitates various family and youth wellbeing workshops through the ‘Healthy Family, Healthy Relationships’ program across Australia, the UK and Singapore to empower women and raise awareness about family violence.

He is also actively involved in the planning and facilitating Parent Building Solution program (PBS) to parents, step parents, grandparents, foster carers, and Dads Do Matter across cultures with various NGOs, schools and indigenous communities.

Working with different faith and cultural leaders to strengthen religious communities and give them the tools to talk about and prevent family violence is at the core of what Jasbir does.

“I work with people from all different faiths and all different professions on how to approach sensitive issues in various communities,” Jasbir said.

“There is no scripture and no faith that says women should be disrespected, yet over generations those ideas get perpetuated.

“I run workshops to challenge these beliefs and educate men, women and children on the importance of respectful relationships.”

Jasbir was running a workshop in Sydney last year around the same time Indian mother Harjit Kaur was murdered by her husband Jagdish Singh in her Glenwood home. .

He said one man stood up in the middle of the workshop and said if that if Jagdish had come to Jasbir’s workshop “that woman would still be alive.”

“That was just heartbreaking to hear. It made me even more determined to raise awareness around domestic violence,” Jasbir said.

“I think a common misconception in many faith communities is that abuse is just a physical thing, but obviously it’s not – abuse can be financial, emotional and spiritual too.

“I help people look out for the signs that their friend or family member might be experiencing abuse; such as dressing down to the wrist, wearing a scarf or becoming quiet when the husband is around. There are so many signs; you just have to look out for them.”

Migration can be a stressful process for families, and the pressure of moving to a new country and assimilating into a new society can result in domestic violence.

“There are many generations moving to Australia from places like India and Iran who have no family support, and things can get out of hand.

“I run men’s support groups and in those groups we talk about what we can do to control anger and stress, and what to do when we lose control.”

Sikh Australian Support for Family Violence (SASFV) is an organisation comprised of volunteer professional men and women including psychologists, social workers, nurses, accountants, barristers, solicitors, teachers and others.

Through SASFV Jasbir works closely with local councils and welfare organisations, mainstream service providers as well as the police, Sikh institutions, Gurduaras and Interfaith Networks to actively promote awareness through community education at the primary and secondary prevention levels.

He said one of the biggest challenges for women experiencing domestic violence is knowing where to go for support.

“It can be very daunting for those women who are experiencing violence because often they don’t know where to go or who to talk to.

“There is a lot of uncertainty and feelings of disconnection with the system, so I help provide them with pathways of where to go for help and how to report to police.

“Working alongside Together We Can, I hope to create a better society for all members of the community.“

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