A Woronora Heights resident, who has “touched the lives” of thousands of victims of domestic violence, was honoured in the 2018 NSW Women of the Year awards.
Beverly Lazarou has spent 30 years helping women escape violent relationships.
Ms Lazarou began working in refuges in the late 1980s and is a long-time member of the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program Unit at Legal Aid NSW.
She was named Local Woman of the Year for Heathcote electorate on the nomination of MP Lee Evans.
The award was presented at a ceremony on International Women’s Day.
“I’m a great believer in equality for women, of course, but also for the next generation,” Ms Lazarou said.
“I believe strongly that children should be provided with the best possible support and opportunities to break out of the intergenerational cycle of abuse.”
Ms Lazarou said community attitudes towards domestic violence had changed considerably since she first began working in refuges in the 1980s.
“It’s no longer considered a private matter,” she said.
“You used to hear people ask ‘why doesn’t she leave’?
“I think there is now a much better understanding that domestic violence is complex, that when the person who is assaulting you is a person you love, or is the father of your children, it’s a very different dynamic than a random assault on the street.
“We still have a long way to go but we’ve come a long way as a community.”
Legal Aid NSW Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy program manager Michelle Jones said Ms Lazarou’s passion, expertise and the many years spent advocating for victims of domestic and family violence had rightly earned her the respect of colleagues across the sector.
“It is safe to say her work has touched thousands of lives over the years,” Ms Jones said.
Mr Evans said Ms Lazarou was “an outstanding candidate”.
“This is a challenging field to work in and it requires an incredibly strong character,” he said.
“Although the work can be extremely rewarding, it also requires a level of energy and passion that only certain people can maintain.
“Through her work, Beverly has effected change and this is something of which she can be truly proud
Minister for Women Tanya Davies said the NSW Women of the Year Local Awards celebrate the contributions and successes of women who are often quiet achievers.
“The Local Awards are designed to acknowledge women who are making a significant impact in the places where we live and work, and in the lives of people around them. Local award winners exemplify the spirit of their communities,” Mrs Davies said.