Home » Podcast » Conor Pall is shaking up the family violence system

Conor Pall is shaking up the family violence system

In this week’s episode, Josh chats with Conor Pall, winner of the Spirit Super Connecting Communities Award at the 2022 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards Victoria.

Conor is a young person shaking up the family violence system, determined to use his lived experience as a male survivor, to drive change that matters in Victoria. He is youngest member to be appointed to the Victorian Victim Survivor’s Advisory Council, using his experiences to influence change in the way children and young people are seen as victim-survivors in their own right. Conor talks about his debut children’s book, The Shadow that Follows, which describes the shadow of family violence that can follow a child everywhere and impacts all aspects of their lives but is often not visible to others. He is passionate about primary prevention and early intervention, and sees his book as one day working alongside programs in schools like Respectful Relationships.

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To find out more connect with Conor Pall on Instagram @conor.pall and you can pre-order his book at his website; www.conorpall.com

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[00:00:08] Christine

Welcome to inspirational Australians, where we share stories of Australians making

[00:00:13] Christine

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[00:00:59] Josh

Hello and welcome to the Inspirational Australian’s podcast. This is season two,  and I’m delighted to be joined by

[00:01:07] Josh

a winner recently. I’ve been interviewing winners from our 2023, 7News Young Achiever Awards program,

[00:01:12] Josh

but this young Person Conor is actually a winner from 2022. And it’s for me,

[00:01:18] Josh

it’s fantastic because we were lining something up last year and for various reasons,

[00:01:23] Josh

I probably had to canceled on Conor. We didn’t get it done. And so thanks to Spirit

[00:01:27] Josh

Super who are sponsoring today’s episode,  I’m able to make it happen and speak to Conor, you know,

[00:01:33] Josh

some eighteen months down the track. And I’m actually really excited about that because it means there’s been quite

[00:01:40] Josh

a good period since then to find out what Conor has been up to and to touch base

[00:01:44] Josh

with Conor for example, one thing is that last year when we spoke,

[00:01:49] Josh

Conor was based in Mildura and that’s not the case anymore. So tell me

[00:01:52] Josh

a Bit about my guest for this weekly dose of inspiration. We’ll be chatting with Conor, who is

[00:01:57] Josh

a young Person shaking up the family Violence system. Determined to use his lived experience as

[00:02:02] Josh

a male survivor of domestic Violence to drive change that matters in Victoria.

[00:02:07] Josh

Being the youngest member to be appointed to the Victorian victims survivors

[00:02:10] Josh

advisory council. Conor is using his experiences to influence change in the way

[00:02:15] Josh

Children and young people are seen as victims survivors in their own right. Conor

[00:02:19] Josh

is preparing to publish his debut children’s book The Shadow That Follows to

[00:02:24] Josh

support primary prevention initiatives and continue to advocate for standalone

[00:02:28] Josh

family Violence service for Children and young people. Every day Conor strives to show that lived experience can be

[00:02:34] Josh

a catalyst for meaningful systemic change. So welcome today to the inspirational trains podcast Conor Pall.

[00:02:42] Conor

Thanks so much, Josh. It’s a pleasure to be here.

[00:02:45] Josh

Awesome to have you and glad we could make it happen. As I said a little while down the track.

[00:02:49] Conor

No,  I know it’s good to be finally to finally be on and to chat with you today. Josh,

[00:02:54] Conor

it’s good.

[00:02:55] Josh

So as I mentioned at the start there, you know, last time we spoke

[00:02:59] Josh

a while back you are in Russia and now Melbourne Inner city. Yeah.

[00:03:06] Conor


[00:03:06] Josh

Person and Yeah. Tell us

[00:03:08] Josh

a Bit about the move and how you found it. Yeah. Inner city in Melbourne is pretty similar to Nigeria.

[00:03:15] Conor

No, not at all. A Bit. Bit different. Josh. It’s been

[00:03:20] Conor

a crazy move I I Yeah. Last year when I,

[00:03:24] Conor

when I came to Melbourne obviously from Mildura to accept the award. I could never

[00:03:30] Conor

have imagined that I’d be living here this time this year. And I think moving here,

[00:03:36] Conor

so I moved for Uni predominantly. And it’s just been an amazing change. I think it’s been really,

[00:03:43] Conor

really refreshing to be here and the opportunities that I’ve had since receiving

[00:03:47] Conor

the award in Melbourne has just just been amazing. So I’m really enjoying it.

[00:03:53] Josh

Yeah,  that’s awesome. So to recap,  you did win the Spirit Super connecting communities award for our Victorian yet

[00:03:59] Josh

achievable arts program. So Congrats to that. Yeah,  that’s awesome. I didn’t realise that it wasn’t, you know,

[00:04:04] Josh

a plan that you’d had.

[00:04:06] Conor

Yeah. Not at all.

[00:04:07] Conor

It wasn’t so things just fell into place

[00:04:09] Conor

really nicely. I think receiving the award has definitely given me a platform and some credibility, I think,

[00:04:17] Conor

Particularly in the family Violence space. It’s such an adult dominated sector and space like

[00:04:23] Conor

a lot of other spaces in the professional world. And I think unfortunately,

[00:04:30] Conor

Children and young people need some credibility sometimes to to be in the space and

[00:04:35] Conor

to be taken seriously. And I think the award has definitely provided me with some

[00:04:40] Conor

credibility behind the cause that I’m fighting for.

[00:04:44] Josh

Well,  someone I spoke to recently nakazawa and had

[00:04:47] Josh

a similar thread in saying that she’s quite young and she looks quite youthful as well. Which, you know, is

[00:04:54] Josh

a massive challenge to be taken seriously. And when you’re getting on boards and

[00:04:58] Josh

advisory panels and these things that can be

[00:05:00] Josh

a challenge. So it sounds like you know that you’ve been now appointed to this

[00:05:04] Josh

advisory council.

[00:05:06] Josh

Can you tell us how that came about and what your experience been,

[00:05:09] Josh

you know, being part of that?

[00:05:11] Conor

Yeah, it’s been surreal. Josh, I think you know, when I was sixteen,  I was writing letters to ministers,

[00:05:17] Conor

about my experience with the service system and the lack of support that I received as

[00:05:22] Conor

a young boy experiencing family Violence in my home. And I didn’t really receive

[00:05:29] Conor

much response from, from ministers and from,  from the government and from organisations. And it’s crazy now, you know, three,

[00:05:39] Conor

four years on I’m twenty and I’m meeting with,

[00:05:42] Conor

I’m not meeting with advisers anymore. I’m meeting with ministers talking about and

[00:05:46] Conor

sort of telling them what my experience was and what Children and young people are experiencing now and,

[00:05:53] Conor

and informing them about what needs to change. And I think it’s my advocacy

[00:06:00] Conor

in eighteen months. Josh has just changed so much,  which is so exciting and it continues to change every day.

[00:06:07] Josh

Have you mentioned to any of those ministers?  Hey, you know, I wrote

[00:06:11] Conor

a letter a couple. Yeah. To a couple of them I have.

[00:06:16] Josh

How does it go down?

[00:06:18] Conor

Not too well,

[00:06:19] Conor

I think they get to be an awkward and for some of them they weren’t in office when

[00:06:23] Conor

I wrote those letters, so they can’t really take accountability. But I think it,

[00:06:29] Conor

it adds to my case that Children and young people aren’t taken seriously in this

[00:06:34] Conor

space and still really aren’t. And you know,  you shouldn’t have to get an award to be taken seriously. That,

[00:06:41] Conor

that shouldn’t. It shouldn’t have to come down to that,

[00:06:43] Conor

but unfortunately it sometimes does. But being on the council and being with

[00:06:50] Conor

a group of other advocates who all have different experiences is just it’s so

[00:06:56] Conor

refreshing because although our experiences are so different,  there’s that there’s the same. I think hope and,

[00:07:05] Conor

and courage through vulnerability that,  that shines through on the council which is just beautiful to be part of.

[00:07:11] Josh

Yeah,  that is good and good on you for standing up and actually saying something to

[00:07:16] Josh

people face to face. Because I know on a personal level,

[00:07:20] Josh

I struggle with that. And afterwards, sometimes I walk away from

[00:07:23] Josh

a conversation that I really should have taken that chance to. You know, it’s not

[00:07:27] Josh

a sort of bad thing to criticize if it’s coming from a good place and it’s wanting to make

[00:07:33] Josh

a real change. And so that’s one thing that I think is really impressive that you

[00:07:38] Josh

took the chance to do that.

[00:07:39] Conor

Thanks so much and I think it’s worth pointing out though I just, I still walk away thinking, Oh,

[00:07:43] Conor

I should have said this or I should have framed that in

[00:07:45] Conor

a different way. And I think that is something that will always happen with my

[00:07:50] Conor

advocacy. Like it’s, it’s forever changing and evolving, which is scary,

[00:07:55] Conor

but like it’s a beautiful thing as well.

[00:07:57] Conor

I think

[00:07:59] Josh

so, you know,  when I read something like you’re part of this, you know,

[00:08:03] Josh

the victim survivors advisory council and you’re advocating for

[00:08:06] Josh

a standalone service for Children of young people. Is that something that’s like

[00:08:12] Josh

a huge mountain or is that something that Oh yeah,  we can do that like how to but no,

[00:08:17] Josh

not being part of it. I don’t really

[00:08:19] Conor

understand. I think maybe I could maybe set

[00:08:22] Conor

the sane about what the service currently looks like. So yeah, I, if,  when I was sixteen,

[00:08:28] Conor

I reached out to the scouts leading statewide organization that provides services

[00:08:35] Conor

to all the victims survivors. But the current system has been designed by and for adult victims,

[00:08:42] Conor

survivors without really having Children and young people in mind. Yeah.

[00:08:46] Conor

So my mom,

[00:08:48] Conor

when she reached out for support, wasn’t, wasn’t ready,

[00:08:52] Conor

she decided she wasn’t ready. But currently Children and young people can’t reach

[00:08:56] Conor

out by themselves. They made the adult parent victim survivor to be there and be

[00:09:01] Conor

receiving support as well. So that’s what the gap is. So my response when I reached

[00:09:07] Conor

out for help was, are you a perpetrator of the Violence?

[00:09:09] Conor

And when I said, Oh no, they said, I’ll wait. Sorry,

[00:09:13] Conor

we don’t provide services or supports to Children and young people who are under

[00:09:18] Conor

eighteen and don’t have an adult victim survivor parent engaged. And that’s still

[00:09:23] Conor

the case today. And I think that is something obviously that needs to change. And

[00:09:30] Conor

when we’re talking about initiatives within schools like respect for relationships,

[00:09:35] Conor

we’re showing Children and young people and teaching them that Violence is

[00:09:37] Conor

unacceptable. But then if they disclose that they’re experiencing Violence,

[00:09:42] Conor

they don’t really have anywhere to go. So that’s what I’m calling for. I’m calling for

[00:09:47] Conor

a national stand alone service that provides supports to Children and young people as victims in their own right.

[00:09:55] Josh

Yeah, well the obvious one straight away is if the,

[00:09:58] Josh

the child or the young Person is experiencing the Violence from their parents. You

[00:10:03] Josh

know how the heck they’ve had to bring an adult into it so

[00:10:08] Conor

Particularly if they’re,  if they’re experiencing Violence from both parents. Josh,  how can they reach out for support?

[00:10:14] Conor

And there are services that do provide supports to Children and young people in their own right,

[00:10:19] Conor

but they’re few and far between and they’re not necessarily specialist family

[00:10:24] Conor

Violence services. And that lends when engaging with Children and young people who

[00:10:30] Conor

are experiencing family Violence is so important. You need that lens to help them

[00:10:35] Conor

heal and recover from Violence and the impacts of it because I’m still healing and

[00:10:41] Conor

recovering from the impacts of my my experiences,

[00:10:45] Conor

both at the hands of the perpetrator and the system as well. And it’s so important

[00:10:51] Conor

that we’re given the opportunity to do that healing and recovery in the best way

[00:10:56] Conor

recovery in the best way that we can

[00:10:59] Josh

yet for sure. And it’s obviously an ongoing journey and process. Yeah,

[00:11:05] Conor

yeah, definitely.

[00:11:07] Josh

So yeah, you can straight away,

[00:11:09] Josh

you know, you explain that so well as to why that’s required. And obviously that’s

[00:11:12] Josh

a big change too to bring that in. But something that’s so worth

[00:11:17] Conor

doing. Yeah.  Particularly in again in a space that is so adult dominated and rightly so,  because most victims,

[00:11:25] Conor

survivors we know are adult women. But one in four statistic came out the other

[00:11:31] Conor

day from the Australian child maltreatment study. And it paints

[00:11:37] Conor

a picture that one in four Children in Australia have experienced family Violence.

[00:11:42] Conor

And where are those Children and young people going to get support?

[00:11:46] Conor

Are they going anywhere like where, where can they go? That?  That to

[00:11:51] Conor

a service that delivers information that’s accessible to them and that they can

[00:11:55] Conor

connect with. Because I think another thing that I,

[00:11:59] Conor

that I saying that I call for is making information accessible to Children and

[00:12:03] Conor

young people doesn’t just benefit us. It benefits everyone,

[00:12:07] Conor

because the system is complex for even adult victims survivors. So I think accessible information is definitely

[00:12:15] Conor

a big piece of that puzzle.

[00:12:19] Josh

I’m realizing I skipped forward a little Bit on some questions. I wanted to ask, I’m going to go back

[00:12:24] Josh

a little corner if that’s okay. You know, firstly,

[00:12:27] Josh

how did you become appointed to the survivors advisory council in the first place? So

[00:12:35] Conor

I, so they advertise positions every two years. So it’s

[00:12:38] Conor

a two year appointment. And I saw it come up and I was, I was working with

[00:12:41] Conor

a support worker at the time and he really encouraged me to apply. So I applied.

[00:12:49] Conor

So it’s after I received the award in twenty twenty two in about July or September,

[00:12:56] Conor

I think. And I applied not thinking that I would get it like I thought it was a. Yeah, that’s

[00:13:02] Conor

a chance in hell that I’d actually get in. And

[00:13:06] Conor

I got in and it was ridiculous. So I

[00:13:09] Conor

said I had an interview with three of the people at family safety,

[00:13:13] Conor

Victoria who sort of run the council. So they’re attached to the Department of

[00:13:19] Conor

Family fairness and housing. And there was the chair was on the interview panel and yeah,

[00:13:26] Conor

I had the interview and then I found out when I was holidaying in Sydney that I got

[00:13:31] Conor

appointed and I was just stoked. I was so happy and honoured that that finally a young boy’s perspective could,

[00:13:40] Conor

could be listened to because I think that’s definitely something that’s missing in

[00:13:44] Conor

this space. And it’s such an important experience to consider.

[00:13:49] Josh

Yeah,  well that’s true because you can’t just have everyone have the same background age

[00:13:56] Josh

with all the same viewpoints you need to have that diverse

[00:13:59] Conor

view. Definitely. Yeah,  definitely. I think that’s really good at that. The diversity on the council is

[00:14:05] Conor

definitely something that I’m proud of because the council needs to be representative of the diversity of lived experience. Otherwise,

[00:14:15] Conor

it wouldn’t be doing its job.

[00:14:17] Josh

Yeah. So is it safe to say that you’d be amongst the youngest members of the

[00:14:21] Conor

gang?  Yeah, yeah, so I’m, so I was nineteen,

[00:14:24] Conor

when I was appointed just just nineteen. And I think the second youngest is about

[00:14:30] Conor

twenty four, twenty five. So it’s a Bit of a Bit of a gap,

[00:14:34] Conor

but I hope that there’s a, there’s

[00:14:38] Conor

a recruitment process currently happening. So I have one more year.

[00:14:42] Conor

So I hope that

[00:14:43] Conor

another young Person gets to be appointed because definitely the next stages of the reforms have a have

[00:14:52] Conor

a clear focus on Children and young people which hasn’t happened before,  which is so exciting.

[00:14:58] Josh

Well, before I ask you,  what’s next after this two year period is up,

[00:15:04] Josh

I want to ask you about how you got into advocacy in the first place. Because,

[00:15:09] Josh

you know, to me that seems like a really big step to put yourself out there to,  you know,

[00:15:15] Josh

obviously you’ve been dealing with significant experiences and situations. And now

[00:15:20] Josh

you’re, I guess, sharing part of that too. Obviously to make a big change and

[00:15:25] Josh

a positive impact. But how does it come about your journey in advocacy?

[00:15:31] Conor

Yeah. Oh, I think I touched on it briefly before,

[00:15:35] Conor

but I think I might start at the end and something that I’ve discovered on that I

[00:15:42] Conor

hate the word journey, but it has been a journey of becoming the advocate that I am today. I think

[00:15:51] Conor

obviously victims survivors of Family Violence don’t have

[00:15:53] Conor

a voice for so long and that period of time looks different for each Person. But I

[00:16:00] Conor

think victims survivors of Family Violence in particular make such good advocates.

[00:16:05] Conor

Because once we find our voices, we cut through the bullshit and,

[00:16:10] Conor

and the bureaucracy that, that is the service system. And we,

[00:16:16] Conor

we bring truth and, and courage to the table, which sometimes, unfortunately,  is lacking. Particularly when you’re sitting at

[00:16:25] Conor

a table of old white generally men in

[00:16:31] Conor

a government building with White walls and you bring this lived experience that you

[00:16:37] Conor

have to share. And you can just see the look

[00:16:40] Conor

on their faces. It cuts through.

[00:16:43] Conor

But I think moving back, Josh,

[00:16:48] Conor

I obviously started writing letters to ministers. Didn’t really hear anything and

[00:16:53] Conor

then I did an internship. I did my like year ten work experience with my local

[00:16:58] Conor

member Ali cup. Okay. Juror and she took me to parliament,

[00:17:03] Josh

not sure how many you,  ten students are doing that kind of work experience I.

[00:17:07] Conor

I’m not sure that it was a great experience and like a testament to Ali because she yeah,

[00:17:14] Conor

she really believed in me which was amazing. But at that point I,

[00:17:19] Conor

I wouldn’t say I was like, I’d written letters, but I wasn’t out. You know,

[00:17:23] Conor

I was in year ten. I was,

[00:17:25] Conor

I wasn’t out saying what this happened to me yet. That wasn’t me. But she knew and

[00:17:29] Conor

she took me to parliament and I met some of her colleagues,

[00:17:33] Conor

some other MPs. And then I think she really she role model to me what

[00:17:40] Conor

advocacy was and what it looked like.

[00:17:42] Conor

So after that I really knuckle down and

[00:17:46] Conor

started calling the offices of the ministers that I wrote to and saying, hey,

[00:17:51] Conor

it’s been ten months Where’s, Where’s the response?

[00:17:54] Conor

And then I met with and now that my other MP in the upper house of the Victorian

[00:18:00] Conor

parliament and she asked a constituency question to the attorney general about

[00:18:05] Conor

a legal matter that was heard in the magistrates court involving an intervention

[00:18:10] Conor

order. And the magistrate had made this terrible,

[00:18:13] Conor

terrible ruling that I would be removed from the order when I turned eighteen without my knowledge. And that’s not

[00:18:21] Conor

a part of what the law says. It doesn’t say

[00:18:24] Conor

that you have to do that. So he used his discretion, discretionary powers to make that decision,

[00:18:29] Conor

and she asked the attorney general to,

[00:18:31] Conor

to reply and say why that occurred and why this occurs because it happens. It’s

[00:18:37] Conor

happened to other young victim survivors as well. And then I got

[00:18:41] Conor

a letter from the CEO of the magistrate’s court of Victoria. And he,

[00:18:47] Conor

he apologised and committed to mandatory training for all judicial officers in

[00:18:52] Conor

Victoria to make sure that they understand that that shouldn’t happen because we

[00:18:59] Conor

know that the justice system in the legal system is so retraumatizing to victim

[00:19:03] Conor

survivors and very rarely provides justice or decisions around fair,

[00:19:11] Conor

fair treatment for victims survivors. So I think that that letter highlighted to

[00:19:18] Conor

me that the work that I was doing was working because this,

[00:19:22] Conor

it’s so often it still happens now I come home to my partner and I used to go home

[00:19:26] Conor

to my mum and I was having a mujer and I would be like,

[00:19:29] Conor

why am I doing this work like why,

[00:19:32] Conor

but Nothing’s happening. No one’s listening. They just, they just want me to go to a meeting,

[00:19:37] Conor

talk about what happened to me. Then I go home and it’s just all tokenistic. But

[00:19:42] Conor

when things like that happen and they don’t happen often,

[00:19:46] Conor

it reminds me that the work is worthwhile because Children and young people

[00:19:53] Conor

deserve more than that. They don’t deserve to be going to court every month to get

[00:19:57] Conor

an intervention order extension that’s not viable. They should be doing things that

[00:20:03] Conor

Children and young people do not going to court. And that’s why I think that’s why

[00:20:09] Conor

I do the advocacy that I do.

[00:20:12] Josh

And that’s,  it must be frustrating to put in all this effort to not get anywhere but then on

[00:20:20] Josh

the flip side,  the incredible impact that when you do that analogy of

[00:20:28] Josh

the hits of the knot and it takes, you know,  thousands of but that one that makes the crack,  yeah.

[00:20:34] Josh

Everything you’ve done. All the frustration has led to that moment and that

[00:20:38] Josh

huge impact because that’s huge. What you were talking about with the magistrates

[00:20:41] Josh

court and committing to training, and that’s such a big change. That’s nothing tokenistic, that’s not an apology, that’s hey,

[00:20:48] Josh

we messed up, but we’re actually

[00:20:50] Conor

changing you. Yeah,

[00:20:52] Conor

it is. It is pretty big and I sometimes forget

[00:20:54] Conor

how big it is. But I think it’s also

[00:20:56] Conor

the ripple like conversation like this conversation is creating reports that will

[00:21:02] Conor

hopefully lead to someone else talking about their experiences or,  or standing up and saying, you know what,

[00:21:08] Conor

I’m actually going through something similar. And it’s not Okay. And I deserve that,

[00:21:12] Conor

I have the right to feel safe and free. It’s those. Yeah,

[00:21:16] Conor

those pebbles in the water that create those ripples that really matter as well.

[00:21:21] Josh

Yeah, so true. Well, something that could create a lot of ripples is the children’s book you’re working on. Yeah,

[00:21:28] Josh

and I know that only too well with young Children myself,

[00:21:32] Josh

just starting school and about to start school that the books we read to them as parents, you know,

[00:21:38] Josh

and carers and things like that have such an impact on them. So tell me about the shadow that follows.

[00:21:44] Conor

Yeah, I think I’m not,

[00:21:46] Conor

I’m not an artistic or creative Person at heart. So this has been a big challenge,

[00:21:51] Conor

but probably one of the best things that I’ve ever done,

[00:21:55] Conor

and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my partner Jack,

[00:21:59] Conor

and my beautiful family back home in Mildura. But so yeah,

[00:22:02] Conor

it’s called this chateau that follows and it’s about me. So it’s about the impacts

[00:22:08] Conor

of Family Violence on Children and how those impacts follow us everywhere they

[00:22:12] Conor

follow us. When we go to school, they follow

[00:22:15] Conor

us when we go to dance class or to,  you know,

[00:22:20] Conor

the soccer club and play soccer on the weekend. They follow us everywhere.

[00:22:24] Conor

And the

[00:22:25] Conor

hard thing about the impacts and the shadow,

[00:22:28] Conor

the hard thing about the shadow is it’s not always visible. You can’t see the shadow,

[00:22:33] Conor

but I can see the shadow but other people can. And I think something that I’m

[00:22:39] Conor

really passionate about is primary prevention. And the intersection that has with early intervention and programs like respect for relationships,

[00:22:50] Conor

I say this book supporting programs like that in schools and getting kids ready,

[00:22:55] Conor

getting your kids ready to go to school as well. Josh,

[00:22:58] Conor

them having that knowledge that with the support and love and care from people

[00:23:04] Conor

around people that that has an impact and that can help stop the shadow from

[00:23:11] Conor

becoming this big thing that has such an impact on

[00:23:14] Conor

a child’s life. So I see the book working in partnership,  hopefully with initiatives like respect for relationships in schools.

[00:23:25] Josh

So for anyone who’s listening along and kind of, you know,

[00:23:29] Josh

not familiar with terms like primary prevention and things like that. Can you give

[00:23:33] Josh

us a little Bit of a layman’s?

[00:23:35] Conor

Of course. Yeah,  so primary prevention in Victoria and nationally now the government,

[00:23:41] Conor

all governments have committed to ending Violence in one generation. And part of

[00:23:47] Conor

that is a program are programs under the primary prevention banner,  which aim to prevent Violence from occurring at

[00:23:54] Conor

a young age and it at school aged Children. So from prep to year twelve. So in Victoria,

[00:24:00] Conor

there’s respect for relationships and that program is embedded in our curriculum

[00:24:05] Conor

and aims. Its aim is to support Children to understand what

[00:24:11] Conor

a healthy relationship looks like. Which is so important because if that’s not being modelled at home,

[00:24:17] Conor

our Children and young people Understanding that number one,  what they’re experiencing is unsafe. And number two,

[00:24:24] Conor

that if they experience that in a relationship later on in life or are currently experiencing it,

[00:24:30] Conor

that it’s actually illegal and they can get help. So it’s,

[00:24:34] Conor

I would say it’s one of the most important elements of,

[00:24:39] Conor

of the family Violence system is to actually stop family Violence from from starting.

[00:24:46] Josh

Yeah, that’s really,  that’s really powerful. So with the book you mentioned that you had

[00:24:51] Josh

a lot of support from your partner, Jack and your family and you know,

[00:24:55] Josh

artistic. Yeah. Tell me about their process of you. Are you the author?  Is there another illustrator?  Who yeah.

[00:25:02] Conor

Yeah, so I’m the author, so I wrote the book in a day,  but then I was just like,

[00:25:10] Conor

I’m going to write it. So it’s thirty two pages. So standard children’s book size

[00:25:15] Conor

and I’m working with or I’ve worked with an illustrator named Emma pleasance. And she’s just understood this,

[00:25:23] Conor

she understood the story from the Start and we’ve really connected. So we’ve been

[00:25:26] Conor

working on this for eighteen months and it’s currently available for pre-sale.

[00:25:32] Conor


[00:25:32] Conor

the launch is happening. Yeah. On the twenty ninth of, of October. So soon,

[00:25:37] Conor

and the process has been excruciatingly long.

[00:25:43] Josh

It’s has that you wrote it in a day and eight months later. It’s still going. Yeah. The

[00:25:49] Conor

writing part was easy. I think Josh, yeah,

[00:25:53] Conor

the rest of it’s been so difficult to come up. I knew that I wanted the chateau. I

[00:25:57] Conor

knew I wanted the book to be done in watercolor,

[00:25:59] Conor

because I wanted the shadow to bleed through the paper. I wanted it to be this

[00:26:04] Conor

shapeless figure that yeah, that didn’t really. It doesn’t have a gender,

[00:26:11] Conor

it doesn’t have like a figure. It’s just this. Yeah,  this shapeless shadow that’s really powerful.

[00:26:18] Conor

I’m it, it,

[00:26:20] Conor

it makes me really emotional when I say it,  because it represents the feeling. It doesn’t represent the perpetrator. It

[00:26:27] Conor

represents the feeling of that experience,

[00:26:30] Conor

which I think is really important because it is the feeling that affected me the

[00:26:34] Conor

most. Just getting the concepts from the,

[00:26:38] Conor

from the illustrator and working on them and then figuring out how to pull it all

[00:26:44] Conor

together. Not on canvas, but professional it like how do you pull

[00:26:47] Conor

a book together professionally and having professional scans done like I thought,  you just photocopy the illustrations?  No,

[00:26:54] Conor

you have to go and spend buckets of money getting them the pictures scanned and then

[00:26:59] Conor

the word placements and all of that. So I’ve been really lucky with the group of

[00:27:03] Conor

people around me. You know, I obviously have an illustrator. I have

[00:27:07] Conor

a graphic designer and someone helping me pull the book together that I’m so excited for,

[00:27:14] Conor

for kids to have it in their hands. And maybe they’re not able to articulate their

[00:27:20] Conor

feelings before they have the book. But when they have the book, they can say, hey,

[00:27:23] Conor

this is like I’m feeling this,  this is how I’m feeling and having it used as

[00:27:31] Conor

a therapeutic resource in services would just be amazing.

[00:27:36] Josh

That is really cool and sounds like a very intense project,

[00:27:40] Josh

but to be honest for someone who says that they’re not artistic,

[00:27:43] Josh

you’ve described it so evocatively, and it’s very emotive. And, you know,

[00:27:49] Josh

to be honest, a little Bit haunting, but in a good way in

[00:27:52] Josh

a way that it’s going to be powerful.

[00:27:54] Conor

And I think it’s been hard to strike that balance Josh of something as scary and as haunting as family

[00:28:03] Conor

Violence. Like family Violence isn’t just physical abuse, it’s,  it’s emotional abuse. It’s fun,

[00:28:09] Conor

it’s all of these different things and pulling that together and representing that in something that

[00:28:14] Conor

a six or seven year old can understand has been difficult. It’s been really

[00:28:18] Conor

challenging. But I think, I think, and I hope that we’ve pulled it,

[00:28:25] Conor

pulled it off and pulled it together really nicely.

[00:28:28] Josh

So where can people get this book or, you know, you said there’s a presale to sign up.

[00:28:32] Conor

Yeah,  so it’s available on Amazon and on book Topia,

[00:28:36] Conor

but it’s also on my website. So I think going to my website kind of Polycom would

[00:28:41] Conor

be the easiest way to have a look and have

[00:28:43] Conor

a rate of what the book’s about and look at the front cover and see if it’s

[00:28:46] Conor

something that Yeah, you’ll connect with.

[00:28:49] Josh

Yeah,  kind of Polycom definitely. And your book Topia. It’s great website so yeah,

[00:28:55] Josh

that’s awesome and can’t wait to check it out myself and have

[00:28:57] Josh

a look at it and read it to my kids as

[00:29:00] Conor

well. Definitely. Thanks so much Josh.

[00:29:03] Josh

So now I did taste it earlier. I wanted to know about what happens next after you know

[00:29:08] Josh

your role on the advisory council,  you’ve got one year left. What are some of your future ambitions?

[00:29:14] Josh

And what do you see as a, I guess the following years to come?  Connor pope

[00:29:21] Conor

I think something we’ve talked a lot about,

[00:29:22] Conor

I think today about the journey of, of my advocacy and may as

[00:29:27] Conor

a Person. And I think something that I’ve really honed in on it,

[00:29:31] Conor

Particularly in the past six months, is the fact that I’m so much more than

[00:29:35] Conor

a victim survivor of Family Violence. And I have

[00:29:38] Conor

a lot more to offer than just that experience. I’m on a pole before I’m

[00:29:43] Conor

a survivor of Family Violence and I think that’s something that’s really important

[00:29:48] Conor

when I’m, when I’m doing this work. And when advocates do the work that they do,

[00:29:52] Conor

it’s so easy to make that your whole identity. But it’s so

[00:29:59] Conor

important that people remember that advocates and lived experience advisors are so

[00:30:06] Conor

much more than just that experience that they’re sharing in that moment they’re,  they’re

[00:30:10] Conor

a whole Person. So I’m currently studying social work at rmit and

[00:30:17] Conor

am working part time at the centre for Excellence in child and family welfare policy. So I really,

[00:30:23] Conor

really enjoy policy work. So I think the dream for me would be to be in government

[00:30:29] Conor

working as an advisor or something like that. I think that’s what my future looks like.

[00:30:35] Josh

Yeah,  well you say right about labelling and how we obviously we as people we,

[00:30:41] Josh

we like to label things that way, but it’s not always a positive thing.

[00:30:46] Conor

Yeah. And I think it’s,  it gets convenient to label Connor Paul Hayes. Yep. He’s the victim survivor of

[00:30:51] Conor

Family. Violence but don’t think I have one label. I think I’m multiple things.

[00:30:57] Josh

Definitely. Well, one label that I have for you is an inspirational, Australian,

[00:31:02] Josh

because I’ve definitely gotten so much out of this chat. And I know that our

[00:31:06] Josh

listeners will as well before I let you go though I do have two more questions for

[00:31:10] Josh

you. So the first one is actually

[00:31:13] Josh

a question from Spirit Super sponsor of this episode. And the funny thing is we

[00:31:20] Josh

raise the topic of doing these episodes last year. And you know, it’s taken

[00:31:24] Josh

a while to come to fruition, but they had this question for you back, you know,

[00:31:29] Josh

when you were freshly announced as a winner. So to see your response, you know,

[00:31:34] Josh

down the track, but basically the question that they’ve asked is Connor,

[00:31:39] Josh

what drives you to want to protect and help your community so actively. And you know, we have covered

[00:31:44] Josh

a little Bit in what we’ve been talking about. But I think the protect pay is

[00:31:50] Josh

something you probably haven’t talked about as much so. Yeah. So what is it that

[00:31:53] Josh

it’s driving you to to protect the community?

[00:31:56] Conor

Yeah, I think I think when I hear that question I hear about what’s my, why,

[00:32:02] Conor

what’s my reason for doing this work?

[00:32:05] Conor

And I think I know that it’s my mom and my brother. I think they’re the two people

[00:32:11] Conor

that are my,  they’re my why they’re why I do this work because Particularly my mom has

[00:32:18] Conor

sacrificed so much for me and modeled to me what a healthy relationship should look like. And that everyone,

[00:32:27] Conor

no matter who who the Person is,

[00:32:29] Conor

has the right to feel safe and free. And I think they’re my reason why I do this

[00:32:34] Conor

work when I, when I come home and I’m like, before I said, Oh,  why do I do this work?

[00:32:40] Conor

And I think of my mom and brother and they’re part of why I do this work.

[00:32:45] Josh

That’s awesome. Well,  you’re so good at answering questions that you kind of already nailed.

[00:32:49] Josh

The next

[00:32:50] Josh

question I was going to ask you, which is about, you know,

[00:32:54] Josh

because I’ve been inspired by you and that’s absolute,

[00:32:57] Josh

honest reaction to our conversation. And at twenty years old, you know,

[00:33:03] Josh

you’ve achieved a lot of people need a whole lifetime to do it. And you know,

[00:33:08] Josh

an author at twenty that’s really cool. So, you know,  I’ve been inspired by you and you know,

[00:33:14] Josh

obviously you’ve just mentioned that your mom and family inspire you as well. But

[00:33:19] Josh

from a bigger picture, you know, motivations wise,

[00:33:23] Josh

what is it that inspires you and we’re not talking about labels now?

[00:33:26] Josh

I’m not talking about as a survivor, just in life like,

[00:33:30] Josh

what’s your philosophy as opposed to going about your day to day life?

[00:33:34] Conor

Oh, that’s a big question. That is,  I’m not ready to answer that question. What inspires me?

[00:33:41] Conor

I think Children and young people inspire me. I think I’ve

[00:33:49] Conor

been doing this work. I’ve come across like yesterday I went to the no to Violence conference, which is

[00:33:53] Conor

a massive national conference that brings together sector representatives and advocates. And I was on

[00:34:00] Conor

a panel with four or five other young people. And they inspired

[00:34:07] Conor


[00:34:07] Conor

They just the way that they what I think Children and young people in this

[00:34:13] Conor

generation just wear that we wear our heart on our sleeves and we’re just honest.

[00:34:17] Conor

And we’re not afraid. And we’re courageous. Like we were on

[00:34:22] Conor

a panel with the National commissioner for family and domestic Violence and all of

[00:34:28] Conor

these CEOs, with all these CEOs in the room and everyone,

[00:34:33] Conor

all of those young people that I was with just said it as a,

[00:34:38] Conor

as it was. And was there was so raw and so honest and I think that’s,

[00:34:44] Conor

that’s why I do the work that I do and that that’s my philosophy. Children working

[00:34:49] Conor

alongside other other advocates and, and collaborating with them.

[00:34:55] Josh

Yeah,  that’s awesome. One, you know,  I really dislike stereotypes around young people because of negative and that

[00:35:03] Josh

really annoys me. But one stereotype that I want people to push,

[00:35:07] Josh

one thing that I’ve seen around being at events talking to people of, of your age,

[00:35:13] Josh

you know, kind of mid twenties and under is that I feel like there’s

[00:35:17] Josh

a lot less It’s not quite tall poppy syndrome, but there’s a lot less like,  well if I didn’t win,

[00:35:25] Josh

then I’m disappointed that there’s so much more supporting peers. I’ve noticed that

[00:35:31] Josh

at the events when after an award is announced,

[00:35:37] Josh

the other finalists who weren’t announced as the winner. I just like stoked to see

[00:35:42] Josh

the people who did win and they celebrate them. They congratulate them.

[00:35:45] Conor

And that even that happened to me when I got my award,

[00:35:48] Conor

all of the other nominees like came up to me afterwards and getting photos with me.

[00:35:52] Conor

And that’s just normal, I think, yeah, in our generation and on stage yesterday,

[00:35:57] Conor

with the other panelists, there were no egos,

[00:36:01] Conor

we were all just there as people with experiences. Understanding that all of our

[00:36:07] Conor

experiences are different. Not one Person is better than the other. And it’s so

[00:36:14] Conor

special to be part of that. I think you’re right, Josh.

[00:36:19] Josh

So yeah,  that’s one of the trends that I’ve seen.

[00:36:20] Josh

And I want that to be the stereotype that

[00:36:22] Josh

people want to talk about with young people. So, you know,

[00:36:26] Josh

and you’ve obviously reaffirmed that that I said, so thank you for your time,  Connor,

[00:36:30] Josh

I really appreciate it. Just to remind everyone had to quote Apple.com this C O a.r.

[00:36:36] Josh

PLL icon will put it in the show notes as well. Sign up for that book and follow

[00:36:42] Josh

what Conn is doing because it’s, it’s great stuff.

[00:36:46] Conor

Perfect, thanks so much,  Josh. Thanks for having me.

[00:36:50] Josh

Appreciate it.

[00:36:54] Josh

This episode is brought to you by Spirit Super,

[00:36:57] Josh

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[00:37:44] Josh

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[00:37:52] Christine

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