Hard at work to stop abuse

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page - By Si­mon Rup­pert

An alarm­ing truth was re­vealed at last week’s White Rib­bon Day cam­paign launch at Be­nalla Health. Be­nalla had the most re­ports of fam­ily vi­o­lence in the Goul­burn re­gion last year and the most in­ci­dents of chil­dren wit­ness­ing do­mes­tic abuse. How­ever, th­ese sta­tis­tics may be a sign of con­fi­dence in po­lice rather than the high­est rate of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

Be­nalla had the most re­ports of fam­ily vi­o­lence in the Goul­burn re­gion last year and the most in­ci­dents of chil­dren wit­ness­ing do­mes­tic abuse.

Th­ese alarm­ing sta­tis­tics were pre­sented dur­ing the launch of the White Rib­bon Day cam­paign at Be­nalla Health last Wed­nes­day.

Be­nalla Fam­ily Vi­o­lence Net­work chair­man and White Rib­bon am­bas­sador Neil Stott hosted the event.

He was joined by Se­nior Con­sta­ble Kather­ine Al­lisey from the Be­nalla Fam­ily Vi­o­lence Unit, who dis­cussed the ways in which fam­ily vi­o­lence was be­ing dealt with by po­lice.

‘‘White Rib­bon Day is an im­por­tant step to­wards putting an end to vi­o­lence within the home,’’ Sen Const Al­lisey said.

‘‘I think it brings at­ten­tion to the is­sue that we have in our com­mu­nity and high­lights the fact that we need to work to­gether to put an end to vi­o­lence.

‘‘We’ve got some great sup­port ser­vices and we’ve worked ex­tremely well with them and hope­fully in the near fu­ture we’ll see those sta­tis­tics de­creas­ing.’’

Sen Const Al­lisey said one rea­son Be­nalla could have had so many re­ports of fam­ily vi­o­lence was due to the pub­lic’s con­fi­dence in the po­lice.

De­spite Be­nalla hav­ing a high level of re­ports when com­pared to other re­gional ar­eas, it did not nec­es­sar­ily mean the city had the most in­ci­dents of fam­ily vi­o­lence, she said.

Be­nalla women hav­ing the courage to re­port abuse al­lows the po­lice to help them and work to­wards re­duc­ing the amount of in­ci­dents tak­ing place.

How­ever, there is a lot of work to be done and th­ese sta­tis­tics high­light the im­por­tance of the White Rib­bon Day cam­paign.

White Rib­bon Day aims to cre­ate a so­ci­ety that re­spects women, in which ev­ery woman lives in safety and is free from all forms of abuse

Mr Stott said White Rib­bon Day aimed to stop men com­mit­ting vi­o­lence against women.

‘‘The sta­tis­tics show that it’s pre­dom­i­nantly women who are vic­tims and men who are the per­pe­tra­tors,’’ Mr Stott said.

‘‘And more im­por­tantly, men are more likely to be vi­o­lent per­pe­tra­tors.

‘‘There’s no doubt that men are vic­tims of fam­ily vi­o­lence too, but they’re not vic­tims of ex­treme vi­o­lence, they’re not the ones liv­ing in fear.

‘‘The fe­male vic­tims are the ones liv­ing in fear and we want to be able to stop that hap­pen­ing. We want to help and sup­port vic­tims.

‘‘We want to be able to chal­lenge men about those be­hav­iours now, but we also want to chal­lenge men about how they raise their kids so we can stop fam­ily vi­o­lence in the fu­ture.

‘‘The fa­ther has a sig­nif­i­cant role in rais­ing a fam­ily and some need to have a long, hard look at their at­ti­tudes to­wards their part­ner and their kids.’’

Mr Stott said fam­ily vi­o­lence oc­curred in all de­mo­graph­ics and was not con­tained to the dis­ad­van­taged.

‘‘It’s across the board and is hap­pen­ing in homes in all types of neigh­bour­hoods,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a prob­lem and we need to do some­thing about it.

‘‘We know it hap­pens. Why it hap­pens par­tic­u­larly in Be­nalla I’m not re­ally sure.’’

Sen Const Al­lisey said work­ing in the fam­ily vi­o­lence unit could be chal­leng­ing, but Be­nalla po­lice were al­ways avail­able to re­spond to calls and as­sist vic­tims.

‘‘We will al­ways en­sure that any per­son who re­ports fam­ily vi­o­lence, whether it’s phys­i­cal or emo­tional, will be as­sisted by the po­lice at Be­nalla,’’ she said.

‘‘There’s a few dif­fer­ent ways we can man­age fam­ily vi­o­lence de­pen­dent on what is re­ported.

‘‘There’s the civil process in re­la­tion to fam­ily vi­o­lence in­ter­ven­tion or­ders and safety no­tices.

‘‘Po­lice have now been given the abil­ity to is­sue an in­ter­ven­tion or­der on the spot that will bring a per­pe­tra­tor to court on the next avail­able date.

‘‘Oth­er­wise we can do it dur­ing busi­ness hours through the lo­cal court, or af­ter hours through the af­ter hours regis­trar.

‘‘That’s our civil process and then if any crim­i­nal of­fences have been re­ported we ob­vi­ously in­ves­ti­gate those and go from there.

‘‘Hope­fully we’ll start to see the sit­u­a­tion turn around in re­la­tion to hold­ing per­pe­tra­tors ac­count- able and ed­u­ca­tion that starts at a young age.’’

The White Rib­bon Day march against vi­o­lence will take place in Be­nalla on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 23, and or­gan­is­ers are en­cour­ag­ing any­one who can make it to take part.

The march will be­gin on the cor­ner of Car­rier and Bridge streets and con­tinue across the Be­nalla-Monash Bridge.

VicRoads, one of 35 lo­cal part­ners of White Rib­bon Day, will close Bridge St for the march.

The part­ner­ship was signed at the VicRoads of­fices in Clarke St on Fri­day.

VicRoads north east re­gional di­rec­tor Nicki Kyr­i­akou said it was im­por­tant that an or­gan­i­sa­tion like VicRoads showed lead­er­ship on this cause.

‘‘It’s an im­por­tant cause and it’s such a dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tion for peo­ple who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fam­ily vi­o­lence to feel com­fort­able to have,’’ Ms Kyr­i­akou said.

‘‘So at VicRoads we’re in the com­mu­nity, we’re al­ways out and about, we’re a big or­gan­i­sa­tion and I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant that we show that lead­er­ship.

‘‘To show that we sup­port this cause, and we sup­port peo­ple who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing vi­o­lence to speak out and be able to have an en­vi­ron­ment where they know it’s safe to speak out, is re­ally im­por­tant.’’

For more in­for­ma­tion on the White Rib­bon cam­paign and the March against vi­o­lence visit www.whi­terib­bon.org.au If you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fam­ily vi­o­lence or know of some­one who is, call Be­nalla po­lice on 5760 0200.

We want to be able to chal­lenge men about those be­hav­iours now, but we also want to chal­lenge men about how they raise their kids so we can stop fam­ily vi­o­lence in the fu­ture. — Neil Stott

Cam­paign: VicRoads’ lead­er­ship team meets Be­nalla Health’s Neil Stott to sup­port White Rib­bon Day.

In­no­cence lost: Be­nalla’s chil­dren wit­ness more fam­ily vi­o­lence than any oth­ers in the Goul­burn re­gion.

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