Pink Belt Project receives funding boost from Rio Tinto's Community Giving Program

Supporting the pink belts: Mya and Hiedi Slater, Pink Belt Project founder Kristy Hitchens, South West Goju Ryu head hnstructor Alan Burdett, Christa Lewin and Lisa Skrypichayko. Picture: supplied
Supporting the pink belts: Mya and Hiedi Slater, Pink Belt Project founder Kristy Hitchens, South West Goju Ryu head hnstructor Alan Burdett, Christa Lewin and Lisa Skrypichayko. Picture: supplied

A South West-based charity working to empower survivors of violence through martial arts has secured a boost to its potential future growth via a $4,400 grant from mining giant, Rio Tinto.

Pink Belt Project Inc, founded by Australind black belt mum Kristy Hitchens and lead by a Board of Management from across Australia, will undergo a strategic branding process thanks to Rio's Community Giving Program.

Formed in 2018 the Pink Belt Project is an Australian Registered Charity and Incorporated Association in WA with beneficiaries in every state and territory.

Ms Hitchens said she was thrilled that Rio Tinto had recognised the community benefits delivered by the project.

"The kind of cultural change that can positively influence gender inequality - a key driver of violence against women - requires decisive action in all areas of life from workplaces to sporting clubs to schools and houses of parliament," she said.

"This funding will go a long way towards ensuring our long-term sustainability."

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More than 100 Pink Belt Scholarships have been provided across Australia throughout the life of the project via a combination of public donations and support from martial arts instructors who sponsor a scholarship at their club.

The project is guided by international research findings, Pink Belt's own 2021 national study of 400 female martial artists and widespread anecdotal evidence demonstrating the empowering and transformative effect of martial arts training for women, creating a powerful but under-recognised tool for violence prevention and recovery.

Rio Tinto funding will support the development of a clear brand for the group as it looks to grow the organisation and support and empower more women in the future.