Graduate using business skills to fight against domestic violence

Graduate using business skills to fight against domestic violence

Diane Manns develops successful campaign to show effects of abuse on the family

Over the past 15 years, Diane Manns has witnessed how domestic violence harms the lives of women and their families.

So when she began undertaking an Executive Masters of Business Administration at the University of Wollongong’s Sydney Business School, she decided to use her newfound business acumen to champion a cause that is close to her heart.

Diane, the CEO of Sutherland Shire Family Services, graduated this afternoon (Thursday 15 December) and said her experience at UOW has been instrumental in helping to identify ways to emphasise the importance of addressing domestic violence to the community.

“The EMBA has been amazing in bridging the divide between my work and my study. I’ve been able to contribute what I’ve learnt to my work, and every assignment I did applied to my workplace,” said Diane, who began working for Sutherland Shire Family Services almost 15 years ago as a caseworker before rising through the ranks to become CEO.

“I had an assignment that focussed on a new project, and I wanted to create a play about domestic violence. But during a flight to Queensland, I happened to sit next to a film producer from Global Pictures and when I told him my idea, he said ‘why don’t you make it into a film?’”

The Pull Ya Head In campaign consists of a series of short films. The second film in the series is called What I See, and is a central part of the campaign, which Diane developed during her studies.

The film, which explores the affects of domestic violence on a family from the child’s perspective, has been wildly successful. It has the support of Sutherland Shire Council, corporate partners Charter Hall, PAYCE and Capital Bluestone, as well as the Cronulla Sharks rugby league club - where it was shown during half time at a game earlier this year - and has been featured in national media.

Pull Ya Head In aims to break down the stigma surrounding domestic violence and encourages men, in particular, to address domestic violence if they believe it is occurring among their family and friends.

Diane said she is passionate about the issue as so much of her work centres on the ways in which domestic violence affects children and families.

“Sutherland Shire is a relatively high-income area, so most people don’t think there is an issue with domestic violence here,” Diane said.

“But what we see overwhelmingly is financial and psychological abuse. Most people think of physical abuse when they think of domestic violence, but we see a lot of isolation, and the psychological aspect of violence.

“So much of our work looks at how that affects the child and on the family.”

Since undertaking the EMBA, Diane has used her studies to begin exploring new ways of raising the profile of the service – for example, short films – while also bridging the gap between the non-profit and corporate sectors.

“Everything I learnt in my studies was applicable to my job. I’ve been looking at how we can create a sustainable business model, while still holding on to our core values.”