GIPPSLAND is leading the way in preventing family violence and the work of one local group is having a positive impact on reducing incidents of family violence.
More than 20 people were handpicked from local councils, hospitals and schools to take part in a program last week training them how to watch for early signs of family violence and how to teach their colleagues to see the signs too.
South Coast Primary Care Partnership, the group behind the free program, plans to train hundreds more people over the next nine months.
“We’re teaching workplaces by educating colleagues about the level of family violence and strategies to prevent it,” Family Violence Prevention Project officer Fiona Passarin said.
“It’s making sure women in communities are safe.”
Local organisations and businesses were keen to get involved, all of them willing to handpick someone to participate, so they can train their colleagues.
The partnership received a $140,000 grant earlier this year from the State Government, one of 30 groups chosen out of nearly 170 applicants.
Ms Passarin says the workshops encourage people to challenge societal norms and look at what causes someone to commit violence.
The norms include typical gender roles, rigid stereotypes for men and women and objectifying women.
South Coast Primary Care Partnership health promotion coordinator Julia Lomas said there are early signs of abuse and assault.
Family violence can begin with sexist jokes and objectifying women, then moving onto traditional gender roles, then threats, verbal abuse and harassment.
“Someone doesn’t just wake up one day and decide they’re going to murder their partner,” Ms Lomas said.
On average, at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia.
Family violence is also the leading cause of death and disability for women aged 15 to 44.
“That outweighs all forms of cancer, high blood pressure, smoking and car accidents,” Ms Lomas said.
“And changing the way people act and behave, it’s not easy.”
The four gendered drivers of violence against women are:
• Condoning of violence against women
• Men’s control of decision making and limits to women’s independence
• Stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity
• Disrespect towards women and male peer relations that emphasise aggression
The South Coast Care Primary Care Partnership is also working closely with the recently launched Family Violence Unit, working out of the Wonthaggi Police Station.
In November, there will be a 16-day campaign on preventing gender-based violence.
The partnership’s goal is to eradicate family violence from Bass Coast and South Gippsland, setting a precedent for other towns to introduce a similar program and prevent family violence.
For more information on the program, call Fiona Passarin on 5672 2494.
Family violence is any behaviour that controls or dominates a family member, causing them to fear for their own or family member’s safety.
It can include physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or economic abuse and any behaviour that causes a child to hear, witness or be exposed to the effects of that behaviour.
The 24-hour national sexual assault and family violence service is 1800 RESPECT (737 732). In an emergency, call triple zero (000).