The violence must stop

RE­MEM­BER THE WOMEN WHO HAVE DIED

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News - Su­sanne Reilly

THE year-long white rib­bon cam­paign will cul­mi­nate tomorrow in White Rib­bon Day across the na­tion, to raise aware­ness of the women who have died ev­ery week in Aus­tralia at the hands of their part­ner or for­mer part­ner.

White Rib­bon Day is now in its 12th year and its mis­sion is to make women’s safety a men’s is­sue too.

Perth White Rib­bon am­bas­sador An­dre De Barr got on board about three years ago af­ter he no­ticed an in­crease in do­mes­tic violence in his own cir­cle.

“It be­came quite alarm­ing be­cause of the num­ber just in my own cir­cle and then you hear the num­bers on the news,” he said.

“I think an­other area of con­cern was that I have two daugh­ters and the chance of one of those girls grow­ing up and be­ing abused did not sit com­fort­ably with me.

“As a male and as a fa­ther, I want to be a role model for good be­hav­iour.”

He said he was an­gry when he first started hear­ing about do­mes­tic violence.

“It was some­thing that didn’t make me feel com­fort­able; quite ac­cu­rately it an­gered me and it up­set me,” he said.

He said do­mes­tic violence was dif­fer­ent to other forms be­cause vic­tims did not have the choice to just walk away.

“Peo­ple can usu­ally choose to en­gage in violence; do­mes­tic violence vic­tims can’t just walk away,” he said.

As an am­bas­sador, Mr De Barr hopes to bring more ac­tion against do­mes­tic violence in WA.

He said in the next five years he hoped do­mes­tic violence was openly dis­cussed and con­stantly on the minds of peo­ple.

“The rea­son be­ing that it will im­pact pol­icy and leg­is­la­tion if enough peo­ple see it as an is­sue,” he said.

“There needs to be on­go­ing be­havioural change.”

CHIL­DREN who are ex­posed to do­mes­tic violence are at higher risk of phys­i­cal, so­cial and psy­cho­log­i­cal harm, ac­cord­ing to a south-east­ern sub­urbs so­cial worker.

Ar­madale Health Ser­vice prin­ci­pal so­cial worker Ivy Vukovich said there was a mis­con­cep­tion that violence did not im­pact chil­dren just be­cause they may not have seen the vi­o­lent in­ci­dent.

“Chil­dren of­ten hear the in­ci­dent, see the in­juries and the trau­matic im­pact on the vic­tim,” she said.

“A sig­nif­i­cant part of our role is fo­cused on pro­tect­ing chil­dren, as we recog­nise the short and long-term neg­a­tive im­pact that ex­po­sure to do­mes­tic violence can have on their well­be­ing.”

Ms Vukovich said Fam­ily and Do­mes­tic Violence (FDV) could also con­trib­ute to home­less­ness, ne­glect, un­pre­dictabil­ity, poor school at­ten­dance and poor con­cen­tra­tion, as well as sleep de­pri­va­tion and in­creased anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

Chil­dren be­come more vul­ner­a­ble to harm, es­pe­cially when drug and al­co­hol use is in­volved and tend to blame them­selves or feel re­spon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing their mother (or fa­ther) and sib­lings.

“They can some­times be made to ‘spy’ on their mother and sib­lings or are used in threats to­wards the mother.

“This creates an un­healthy un­der­stand­ing in the child of what an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship in­volves.”

To pre­vent the alarm­ing cases of do­mes­tic violence and the on­go­ing ef­fects it has on chil­dren as well as the vic­tims, Ms Vukovich said so­ci­ety needed to con­tinue to raise aware­ness about the is­sue and pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion and sup­port to those ex­pe­ri­enc­ing FDV.

“White Rib­bon Day and other com­mu­nity events are es­sen­tial in keep­ing FDV in the fore­front of our minds,” she said.

“It is an op­por­tu­nity for so­ci­ety to make a stand against FDV and to say that there are no cir­cum­stances where it is ac­cept­able to cause harm or fear to­wards an­other.

“It also ed­u­cates per­pe­tra­tors that violence, ag­gres­sion, controlling and in­tim­i­dat­ing be­hav­iour is not ac­cept­able and there is sup­port avail­able to help them ad­dress their be­hav­iours and learn ap­pro­pri­ate com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills.”

Ms Vukovich works with a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary team made up of doc­tors, nurses, se­cu­rity staff and other so­cial work­ers at Ar­madale Health Ser­vice.

Their role is to en­sure the im­me­di­ate safety of women and chil­dren – and men in some in­stances – to meet their med­i­cal and so­cial needs when they come to the hos­pi­tal.

Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d445821

So­cial worker Ser­e­monde Hobby, Dr John O'Hare, Dr Gil­lian Porter and nurse Keith White.

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