Helping women find the courage to escape domestic violence is all in a days work for Tanya Whitehouse.
The Camden area resident has dedicated 24 years of her life to the NSW Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services in Macarthur.
Ms Whitehouse will be awarded for her efforts on International Women’s Day and named the 2018 Camden Woman of the Year.
“I was really humbled when I found out,” she said.
“I don’t like being the centre of anything I would much rather work in the background – the quiet achiever.”
Ms Whitehouse worked her way from an administration position to being the chairperson of the organisation.
She said it was both a challenging and a rewarding career.
“There’s always an element of sadness and I don’t think I have heard anything that shocks me anymore,” she said.
“I just get dismayed at the level of behaviour some people have towards the person they are supposed to love or the mother of their children.
“What I find most rewarding is seeing women become more empowered and helping them to the make the choices that help them become who they truly are.”
In 2016 Ms Whitehouse was awarded the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW’s Justice Medal for her work with women and children.
“The big positive winning that award was that it has given me a bigger voice to talk about the impacts of domestic violence,” she said.
“It shouldn’t be a silent epidemic.
“Twenty years ago domestic violence wasn’t talked about but the conversation is getting easier.
“Children are silent victims too so we have to give them a voice as well.”
Each week in Australia one woman is killed as a result of intimate partner violence.
Ms Whitehouse said services like the advocacy group were vital in helping women to find their voice.
“It’s a place for them to speak and to be heard – to be believed,” she said.
“It’s also important for women in these situations to speak to people who understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship and why it can take time for decisions to be made.
“We help her look at the options so she can make an informed choice when she is ready.
Ms Whitehouse said she was proud of how far the advocacy group had come.
“I feel privileged to be one person who is the voice of so many women with a supportive team of women behind me,” she said.
Camden MP Chris Patterson will present the award at the International Women’s Day lunch at NSW Parliament House.