Wednesday, 06 March 2024

Zahra Foundation Australia Reception

Rod, and I as your Patron, are honoured to welcome you to Government House to pay tribute to the work of the Zahra Foundation in the lead up to this Friday’s International Women’s Day.

Sadly, March also marks the birthday of Zahra Abrahimzadeh and the tragic anniversary of her death at the hands of her husband, after decades of abuse.

Yet out of such unspeakable tragedy Zahra’s children set up the foundation nine years ago, to help address the gaps in services they found when their mother decided to leave an abusive home.

We admire them profoundly for doing so. It must have taken great courage and strength to harness goodness from such a personal tragedy.

No one should have to endure coercion, loss of independence and self‑esteem, threats, constant fear, emotional abuse, or financial isolation. All are at the core of domestic violence.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Count Her In: Accelerating Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment.

And that is at the heart of the mission of the Zahra Foundation - addressing economic empowerment through financial counselling, pathways to education, training, and employment.

Because through empowerment, women gain knowledge; because through empowerment, women gain courage to make change.

It is sobering to know that on average it takes seven attempts for women to leave an abusive relationship, because they fear falling into poverty or homelessness.

This fear is sadly the experience of the tens of thousands of people who are homeless having fled domestic violence.

Your work with the Zahra Foundation helps constrain this number.

Shortly I will present certificates to the staff and volunteers in recognition of your dedication in supporting women to recover and heal from the impact of domestic abuse, as well as to clients who have used your courage, voice and lived experience to raise awareness of the impact of domestic abuse.

Thank you for doing so. Please be proud of your roles in helping to break the cycle of abuse.

Abuse reaches much further than the abused. In particular, it also harms the children who witness it and who themselves endure intimidation and violence.

Through you, women can reclaim their lives. Children can understand that violence is not normal and not acceptable.

Arman, your tireless work in advocacy and sharing your experience, including speaking to prisoners, police officers and cadets is a powerful catalyst to change attitudes.

I was struck by the answer you once gave in an ABC radio interview as to why your father behaved the way that he did. You replied: Because no-one stopped him.

Arman, Atena, and Anita, rest assured that those in this room, and many others are working hard to ensure one day we can stop such violence.


While International Women’s Day provides a beacon for action and for women’s voices to be heard, it is but one day.

Each and every day we need concerted community effort to bring the issue out much more from behind closed doors and stop the violence.

Unfortunately, it is still a long road ahead. There are many challenges to be overcome. Yet the work of the Foundation remains important in empowering women and giving hope.

In that regard, I applaud your advocacy in successfully joining the call for a Royal Commission in South Australia into family, domestic and sexual violence.

Long may the Zahra Foundation “light a path forward for women impacted by domestic violence.”

Coming events