“Small but Mighty”: How the Zahra Foundation is filling a gap in Domestic Violence recovery services

The Zahra Foundation was launched in 2015 by Atena, Arman and Anita Abrahimzadeh -three siblings who tragically lost their mum to domestic violence homicide. 

Zahra Abrahimzadeh was brutally murdered by her former husband in front of large crowds at a Persian New Years function in Adelaide. A night that was meant to be a joyous celebration of Zahra’s 44th birthday had ended in devastation- another woman’s life cut short by the scourge of domestic violence. Zahra had suffered 24 years of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband and had made the brave decision to flee the family home with her three children only 10 months prior.  

The Zahra Foundation is unique in the domestic violence sector. Focused more on the recovery stage than crisis services, Zahra Foundation aims to help South Australian women and children as they recover from DV and move forward with their lives. After leaving the family home, Zahra and her three children were homeless and facing poverty. The financial burden of leaving an abusive relationship is an underrecognised barrier for women who have often been subjected to financial abuse Focused on economic empowerment and independence, the Zahra Foundation offers a range of services targeted towards financial literacy.

 In the last year, the Zahra Foundation has facilitated 142 financial counselling appointments and helped 49 clients graduate from their Pathways to Employment Program which aims to empower women to set goals around employment and furthering their education. The past year has been record-breaking for the Zahra Foundation, says General Manager Gemma Burdon with a total of 241 women accessing support services in 2020. After experiencing this financial hardship firsthand, the Abrahimzadeh children saw a ‘gap in the market’ of domestic violence services in South Australia and set out to rectify it.  

We know we’re still a small organisation but we like to say we’re small but mighty

Gemma Burdon, General Manager

For every 12 women that The Zahra Foundation is currently helping, there are at least 30 on a waitlist and it is hoped that an increase in funding and donations will allow the foundation to facilitate more programs to meet the increased needs of the community after a rise in DV incidents attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

 

We are seeing the trend here in the South Australia of domestic violence incidences increasing. The South Australian Police responded to 12% more domestic violence call outs in 2020 and so we are feeling the flow on effect of that in the recovery space.  

The motif for the Zahra Foundation is the lotus flower. A flower that although incredibly beautiful, grows in muddy and dark environments. It is the lotus flower, says Amran Abrahimzadeh that is the perfect representation of his mother and all other women experiencing domestic violence. Also a fitting emblem for The Zahra Foundation itself, serving as a representation of hope and resilience after darkness.  

Image: The Zahra Foundation

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Sarah Davison

Sarah is in her final semester of her Masters of Journalism. She is currently working on publishing her thesis on the 2020 domestic violence homicide of Hannah Clarke. Sarah wants to use her role at The Advocate to highlight issues affecting women and the LGBTQI+ community. In her spare time, she loves listening to true crime podcasts, reading sassy restaurant reviews and drinking too much coffee.

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