Provocative violence installations to confront shoppers

Rachael Ward |

IKEA is participating in a provocative campaign to highlight the scourge of domestic violence.
IKEA is participating in a provocative campaign to highlight the scourge of domestic violence.

Young mum Claire bundled her two babies into the family car, fleeing with just the bare essentials when she feared her partner’s unrelenting control would soon turn violent.

Except they had nowhere to go.

Forced to sleep in their car for weeks, the 23-year-old drove around Queensland waiting for a spot at a refuge.

Claire struggles to think back to that horrendous time in their lives but now her family’s precarious living situation has been recreated at one of the nation’s busiest retailers.

It’s among several provocative installations at IKEA’s Tempe store in inner Sydney depicting the real-life stories of families fleeing domestic violence.

Installations at IKEA highlighting homelessness
Claire and her babies lived in a car for weeks after fleeing domestic violence. (HANDOUT/SUPPLIED)

One has been disguised in between real shop displays, while a tent with room for three people has been set up outside the restaurant complete with a child’s artwork featuring the words ‘I love my mumy (sic)’.

The Australian government says one in four women and one in eight men have experienced family violence in their lives, with Counting Dead Women Australia’s tally of women killed violently in 2024 has now reached 35.

IKEA Australia chief executive Mirja Viinanen knows the scenes will be confronting for some shoppers but believes corporations have a responsibility to act on pressing issues.

“We need to start to talk in provocative ways sometimes, we need to create awareness on social issues we have in our communities where we operate the business,” Ms Viinanen told AAP. 

“We are part of the community, we are part of the society.”

IKEA Australia CEO Mirja Viinanen, Save The Children CEO Mat Tinkler
IKEA ‘s Mirja Viinanen and Save The Children’s Mat Tinkler are behind the innovative campaign. (HANDOUT/SUPPLIED)

The goal is to raise money and awareness among shoppers and the retailers’ 3600 staff.

About 122,000 people experience homelessness on any given night, according to Homelessness Australia.

Save the Children Australia chief executive Mat Tinkler said the trauma and impacts of homelessness is exacerbated by the nation’s tight rental market with many refuges at capacity.

“Once you do find a place, the ability to secure a long term sustainable premises where you feel safe and secure is really difficult,” he said.

Mr Tinkler described the installations as ‘brave’ and called on other retailers to take a stand on issues impacting customers.

“People are going to turn up on the weekend to do their shopping at IKEA, they’re not going to expect to see a car in the foyer that depicts a scene of homelessness and I hope they will be a bit startled by that,” he said.

It comes amid a global shift towards customers rewarding values-based organisations with their loyalty, according to Australian Retailers Association chief industry affairs officer Fleur Brown.

Taking a stand on political issues can be a double-edged sword, but action on human rights issues resonates, she said.

“Those heart strings are quite tied to the purse strings of many types of customers, particularly younger generations,” Ms Brown said.

“Retail is one of the most feminised sectors, not just in terms of its customer base but also in terms of its workforce, so domestic violence is an issue that’s close to the heart of many retailers.”

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