From trauma to triumph: John Curtin Medal awarded to Ann O’Neill for domestic violence advocacy


Ann O’Neill. Picture: Andrew Ritchie |www.communitypix.com.au   d460631
Ann O’Neill. Picture: Andrew Ritchie |www.communitypix.com.au d460631

DOMESTIC violence survivor and advocate Ann O’Neill has been awarded the 2016 John Curtin Medal for her work raising awareness and support for victims of violence.

Dr O’Neill founded not-for-profit organisation angelhands for victims of serious crime more than a decade ago after the death of her two children in a murder-suicide by her estranged husband.

Seven months after the death of her children, Dr O’Neill started a degree in social work in honour of her children, graduating with first class Honours and a PhD in International Health.

She said winning the award was quite overwhelming.

“To be recognised by leading academics and be in the company of previous winners is very overwhelming and such an honour,” Dr O’Neill said.

“This award symbolises to me that extreme trauma is increasingly recognised as a social justice issue.

“Receiving this award is recognition of my personal journey more than my work in the issue.”

Dr O’Neill said she dreamt of a day where angelhands was no longer needed but more government funding was needed to help victims of serious crime.

“What I’ve learnt in my 20 years is the core trauma symptoms are the cause of so many social challenges and the aftermath of any trauma,” she said.

“Ideally we hope to get some philanthropic or government support so we can continue what we do.

“Our ultimate dream is to not be needed.”