Wesnet (Women’s Services Network Inc.) has announced that, together with the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS), Australia will host the 5th World Conference of Women’s Shelters (5WCWS) in Sydney from 15 to 18 September 2025. This will be the first time the event is held in the Southern Hemisphere.

Launched in New York last week at the 68th annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68), the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and locally in Sydney at the Elsie Conference, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first women’s refuge in Australia, 5WCWS will be the world’s largest conference by and for women’s shelters and those working to end gender-based violence. Over a thousand participants are expected to attend, from more than a hundred countries.

The conference has a strong history, having been held four times around the globe in the USA, Canada, Netherlands, and Taiwan. Attendees has included shelter and refuge workers, and NGO leaders worldwide, as well as government, non-government, corporate sector, and academics.

Karen Bentley, CEO of Wesnet, said, “The 5WCWS will greatly boost the common goal: to end all violence against women globally. Women’s shelters and women’s specialist services have been recognised as crucial to ending violence against women and girls and other forms of gender-based violence. The global exchange at these world conferences offers a unique opportunity to share knowledge and collaborate on a worldwide systematic approach to combating violence against women and their children and to increase the safety, independence and strength of women worldwide. We are so excited to be able to host this continuing dialogue on a global scale from the past four world conferences.”

Over four days, 5WCWS will offer leading keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, workshops, an exhibition, pre- and post-study tours, and opportunities to collaborate.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other global crises, it will be six years since the last world conference, which was held in 2019. BESydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith commented: “I am proud that Sydney has been chosen to host the 5th World Conference of Women’s Shelters in 2025, an incredible opportunity to have meaningful conversations about systemic approaches to combating violence against women and providing long-term support for women as they transition from short-term crisis care to full recovery from domestic abuse, trauma and deep loss. Business events are the ideal platform to raise awareness among governments, the corporate sector, and international organisations to strive for real change in policy and power.”

5WCWS will be held at the International Convention Centre Sydney. ICC Sydney CEO and Group Director – Convention Centres ASM Global (APAC) Geoff Donaghy said: “At ICC Sydney, corporate social responsibility is a cornerstone of our business management framework, and we strive to deliver events that drive a positive social impact. As a beacon for advocacy and change in our city, we are proud that ICC Sydney will host the 5th World Conference of Women’s Shelters in 2025, bringing us closer to ending violence against women around the globe – empowering delegates to drive positive change in their local communities.”