THE Bass Coast and South Gippsland communities have turned bright orange to raise awareness about the link between family violence and gender inequality, with the end goal of completely stamping out family violence.
And in Wonthaggi, the ‘Future free of family violence’ campaign has been welcomed by businesses and the local council, who’ve added orange everywhere they can.
As part of the ‘Orange the World’ campaign, the Bass Coast Shire Council has planted orange flowers in Inverloch, Cowes and Wonthaggi, and businesses have turned their fronts orange with balloons, streamers and posters.
In South Gippsland, the local council’s also getting involved with display signs at the entrance of each town.
Family violence is a national issue but has a large impact at a local level.
In the Bass Coast region, there were 643 incidents of family violence in the 2015-16 year and 529 the following year.
But in South Gippsland, the number of incidents hit 431 in 2016-17, the highest number on record.
And leading the charge to drive down those numbers is the South Coast Primary Care Partnership, with help from a $140,000 State Government grant.
They’re working with 13 other partners, including the YMCA, the Department of Education, Gippsland Women’s Health, local police and health services to stamp out family violence.
The Victoria Against Violence campaign, which has included a march in the city, is an opportunity to engage and educate the wider community about the link between family violence and gender inequality.
Gender equality increases women’s safety and wellbeing by encouraging a society based on respect and no violence.
“Everyone, the community and businesses, are really embracing this and it’s fantastic to see,” Family Violence Prevention project officer Fiona Passarin said.
“They’re all very happy to participate and we encourage all the businesses to take a photo of their orange display and share it on social media.”
The campaign is timed to coincide with the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism against gendered violence campaign – which started on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Saturday, November 25) and ends on International Human Rights Day (Sunday, December 10).
Ms Passarin said orange is a bright and optimistic colour and the UN designated colour for the elimination of violence against women and girls. She said support for change needs to be visible, and voices need to be heard, to change community attitudes to family and gender violence.
“Let’s unite to spread the message that family and gender violence is serious, prevalent and preventable, and encourage our communities to think and act towards a world free from family and gender violence.”
Businesses are encouraged to display the orange merchandise that has been handed out over the past few weeks to assist in building a future free of family violence.
You can get involved by wearing orange to work or school, take photos and post on social media and support local businesses to help raise awareness.
Businesses are encouraged to contact their local council for more information on the project and to arrange collection of their orange materials for promotion of the campaign.

More on page 6 of this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times
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