Men urged to speak out against domestic violence

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WHITE RIBBON DAY: A large number of domestic violence cases that are processed through the courts don’t get see the light of day in the media’s court reports.

This is because publishing stories like this risks endangering the victim further, or it could identify the victim of a crime which still carries a debilitating social stigma, subjecting the victim to further humiliation.

Goulburn Court registrar Bernadette Hilton wants that social stigma to change.

“About three years ago I got the idea for the Goulburn White Ribbon Annual Ball.  It came about because I got cranky!  I mean really cranky.  I was tired of seeing what seemed to be a never ending procession of domestic violence perpetrators appearing in court.

“Then there was the final one that moved me from really cranky to outraged motivation.  The offender was physically assaulting his partner in front of their small child, about four-years-old I think, and the child was pleading… ‘stop daddy stop’.

“I started to notice that the media no longer reported offenders sentenced to imprisonment for domestic violence offences, they simply stopped talking about domestic violence in general, as if it had magically disappeared.

“Then when a woman was murdered by her partner, that was news worthy.

“I saw on social media a lot of people saying how awful it was, how dreadful, those poor children that were left behind.

“Yes, it was awful and dreadful, but it may be a life that was never lost had [the victim’s] family, friends and neighbours had the benefit of education and information and a willingness to do something rather than simply referring to domestic violence that they could hear or see, as ‘none of my business’,” she said.

Wednesday marks White Ribbon Day, a campaign aimed at empowering men to speak out against domestic and family violence.

Yass Police say they get called out to attend more domestic disputes than they’d like, although not all require action to be taken.

There were 39 reported cases of assault during a domestic dispute in the Yass Valley local government area in 2014, up from 36 cases the year before, and 27 cases reported in 2010, reveals Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

This does not necessarily mean domestic violence incidents are on the rise, rather, it could be a case of more victims reporting incidents to authorities, which was a positive progression according to Goulburn Local Area Command Superintendent Zoran Dzevlan.

It was also the case that people are becoming more aware that domestic abuse doesn’t always need to involve a physical assault to be classified as domestic violence.

It can also be emotional, psychological, sexual, financial and social abuse.

Supt Dzevlan was in Yass today with Domestic Violence Liaison officer, Senior Constable Simone Houghton, and other officers chatting with shoppers outside the Memorial Hall to mark White Ribbon Day in Yass.

 

Police will join the inaugural Walk for White Ribbon in Goulburn on Wednesday, organised by Chris Jordan from the South Eastern Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, which services the Queanbeyan and Yass (with Kerrie Mobbs) areas.

The walk will start from the corner of Verner and Auburn Streets at 11am, proceeding to the court house where there will be a ceremonial rose planting to establish a memorial garden.

A barbecue will follow.

White Ribbon engages boys and young men in educational programs and to become catalysts for social change, Ms Hilton says.

“White Ribbon Australia believes in the capacity of the individual to change and to encourage change in others. Our generation can and must work towards stopping violence against women so that all women can live in safety, free from violence and abuse.”

Supt Dzevlan said police were also keen to raise awareness.

“On White Ribbon Day we’ve already got a commitment at Goulburn, which will be the inaugural march from the council chambers at Goulburn to the courthouse.

“We had a community engagement day yesterday in the Southern Highlands where we had a golf day called Respect and Keeping Relationships On Par. Golf is predominantly played by men and this is more about men getting out there and saying no to violence against women.”

He said last year a similar visit to town for two hours attracted about 30 people who stopped by for advice or a chat.

“Now that doesn’t seem like a lot, but 30 people doing this [stopping by to increase their awareness of domestic violence issues], is 30 more than if we just did nothing,” he said.

Member for Goulburn and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Pru Goward, is calling on the community to stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.

She said White Ribbon Day is the world’s largest male-led movement empowering men to speak out against domestic and family violence.

“We have all heard the shocking statistic that on average, one woman is killed every week as a result of intimate partner violence,” Ms Goward said.

“That is why I am calling on the community across the region to raise awareness of this despicable crime and make women’s safety a man’s issue too.”

White Ribbon, now in its twelfth year, focusses on the positive role men can play to break the cycle of violence in society.

Ms Goward urged the community to stand up, join the conversation and take the White Ribbon oath never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.

She was pleased to see that local events were taking place.

“Communities just like ours play a vital role in changing attitudes and driving local change. From our school yards and workplaces, to our sporting teams – we can all stand together and say that violence against women is not accepted in our community,” Ms Goward said.

“The NSW Government is committed to putting the perpetrator squarely in the frame. Our recently announced $60 million package targets the perpetrator in a very new way,” Ms Goward said.

For more information about White Ribbon Day and to take the oath visit www.whiteribbon.org.au/day

*If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic and family violence please call the 24-hour NSW Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63.

Katharyn Brine

Editor / Publisher

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