A University of Newcastle student's commitment to helping women experiencing domestic violence has earned her a trip to the United States to take part in a conference hosted by former US President Bill Clinton.
Fourth-year Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws student Jayme-Lyn Hendriks is one of a handful of Australian students invited to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) at the University of Texas in Austin.
Launched by Bill Clinton in 2007, the CGI U is a conference for students and university officials to discuss solutions to pressing global issues.
Ms Hendriks said as a prerequisite to attending the conference, each participant had to develop a 'Commitment to Action' - a specific plan of action addressing a pressing challenge on a local, national or international level.
"My commitment to action is to work with Northern Settlement Services - formerly the Migrant Resource Centre - to develop a training program to address domestic violence in culturally and linguistically diverse families," Ms Hendriks said.
"While the incidence of domestic violence is reportedly no greater in refugee or migrant communities than in the general Australian population, the extent and effects of the violence are greatly exacerbated by the circumstances of refugee and migrant women.
"They often do not speak English, their role in the family is greatly proscribed by their culture, and they are operating in an unfamiliar society with different legal norms.
"These women need assistance to stay safe but they also need to maintain their connection with family and community."
The training program will provide local service professionals such as police, health workers and refuge workers with best practice techniques for dealing with domestic violence.
Ms Hendriks sees the conference as an amazing opportunity to learn and network with past, present and future leaders.
"At the inaugural conference last year, attendees worked on the 'Make it Right' project in New Orleans with Bill Clinton and Brad Pitt. This year attendees include Drew Barrymore, Natalie Portman, Matthew McConaughey, and Morgan Spurlock.
"The skills I will learn from this conference, and the people I will meet, will greatly enhance my knowledge and understanding of how to effectively work on significant local, national and international issues," Ms Hendriks said.
Ms Hendriks leaves for the United States on Saturday 7 February 2009.