Meet Robyn Martin
28 May 2023
This week, we get to meet a stalwart of the Canberra Community in Robyn Martin (pictured on the right with Lorraine Johnson from The Snow Foundation). Robyn is a proud Kamilaroi woman born in the small NSW country town of Collarenebri, where she grew up on the Aboriginal Reserve. She is the Chief Executive Officer of Beryl Women Inc. and prior to becoming a CEO, Robyn worked in the service as an Aboriginal Support Worker.
We are long-time supporters of Beryl and we are long-time admirers of Robyn.
What is your name?
How long have you been in Canberra? and what do you love about it?
I’ve lived in Canberra on and off for the past 35 years. I’ve lived on Ngunnawal/Ngambri country longer than I have lived on my own – Kamilaroi.
How would you describe Beryl Women Inc?
At Beryl, we do whatever it takes and have the flexibility as a small specialist service to work therapeutically and reduce intergenerational trauma and disadvantage. As a specialist domestic violence service, we know that Domestic Violence does not occur in isolation and there are many intersecting complexities that impact women and children.
This is where Beryl stands out in our community, as we walk alongside women and meet them where they are at in crisis, as well as ongoing outreach support in whatever form that may take.
Tell us a bit about how you got into Beryl?
I was working at a Women’s housing program in Queanbeyan for approximately 8 and a half years. This was a 24hr a week position and I was looking for more hours to work, and when the job at Beryl became available, it was a designated Aboriginal Support Worker position, so I thought “why not?”.
The position offered challenges; I hadn’t worked specifically with victims of domestic violence before and I was hopeful that I would be successful, which I was.
And now you’ve been there for 23 years! Can you tell us a bit about what’s kept you there?
I have worked with many women (both clients and workers) during this time.
I am still amazed at women’s resilience and its been a real privilege getting to know these women and their kids. I’m always inspired by their strength and resilience to fight a system that makes it difficult to navigate; regardless, they continue to try and make better lives for themselves and their kids without violence in their lives.
I’ve worked with many women from different cultures and their willingness to share that with me and their interest in learning about Aboriginal Australia has also been my privilege.
There are other reasons too; loyalty and what I’ve learnt about collectively working with the Board and Staff. It’s a practice that works well for me as the CEO and it’s important to me to bring all staff along with me. No CEO stands alone, she/he is only as good as the team standing beside her/him.
What do you think are some of the misconceptions surrounding domestic and family violence?
Domestic Violence is about an “abuse of power”, and comes in many forms including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, spiritual, financial, etc. We have been talking about preventing violence against women and children for years. Has anything changed? Really…. What works in theory and works in reality varies depending on individual circumstances.
Early intervention and prevention has a place in the variety of responses. The community as a whole needs to be re-educated about healthy and respectful relationships and healthy conflict resolution processes.
Our kids need healthy adult role models across the board to become adults who respect themselves, respect their peers, respect their elders, and respect other human beings.
And what would you say to a Woman who’s recovering from a violent or abusive situation?
We see you; we hear you and we are here to support you.
For anyone thinking about donating or volunteering with Beryl, what would you say to them?
The support you provide will have a great impact across areas such as our women and children’s wellbeing, trauma counselling, and direct client support. Violence against women and their children takes a profound and long-term toll on women and children’s health and wellbeing, on families and communities, and on society as a whole.
Above all, violence against women is a fundamental violation of human rights, and one that Australia has an obligation to prevent under international law.
Your donation will assist the organisation in providing additional supports to women and children that we are not funded to provide.
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