Violence against women: city takes a united stand

BALLARAT community leaders have thrown their weight behind a campaign to educate, inform and explore the issue of domestic violence.

With a united voice, local politicians and civic leaders have called for violence against women to stop, and encouraged the Ballarat community to get behind the It’s Up To Us campaign launched by The Courier on Saturday.

Teamed with the White Ribbon Foundation of Australia and with the backing of regional welfare and community organisations, the It’s Up to Us campaign is asking readers to tell their story and sign an online oath pledging to put a stop to violence against women.

City of Ballarat mayor John Burt said he was honoured to have been a White Ribbon Day ambassador since 2007.

“As a community, I firmly believe we need to act together to eliminate violence against women,” he said.

Cr Burt hoped Tony Lovett’s admissions on domestic violence, reported in The Courier on Saturday, would help others to work to prevent violence against women.

Committee for Ballarat chief executive John Kilgour yesterday welcomed the campaign, which will run until White Ribbon Day on November 25.

“Any initiative which raises the profile and awareness of domestic violence is worthwhile,” Mr Kilgour said.

“From the (Committee for Ballarat’s) perspective, violence against women is abhorrent. We want to encourage positive comm-

unity engagement ... anything that raises awareness about this issue is great.”

Ballarat East MP Geoff Howard, who was a White Ribbon Day ambassador in recent years, said everyone in the community should realise that violence in any situation was not on.

“There is too much violence against women, so any campaign that highlights this issue should be strongly supported,” Mr Howard said.

His Ballarat West colleague, Sharon Knight, said that while domestic violence victims should always be protected, looking at ways to prevent the problem was equally as important.

Ms Knight, who has worked in the welfare field, said it was up to men to take responsibility for their actions and to stand up to their mates by saying violence against women is unacceptable. 

“Unless we all do that, this situation will never change,” she said.

Each month, Ballarat police attend about 140 incidents of family violence and the number of reported incidents has increased by about 30 per cent in recent years.

Victoria Police set up the Family Violence Unit in Ballarat in 2008 to provide an immediate specialist response to family violence incidents in the region. Since it was introduced, the unit’s staffing has increased from one sergeant and four officers to six officers.

Two officers who work in the Ballarat FVU are Senior Constable Simone Greenwood and Constable Jason Cannon.

Senior Constable Greenwood admitted that attending a domestic violence situation was always intense.

“Most times, you don’t know what to expect until you get in the door. It’s a situation where everyone is on edge,” Senior Constable Greenwood said.

“Our main priority is that everyone needs to be safe, particularly if there are children involved.”

Constable Cannon said domestic violence in some regional and rural areas seemed to be magnified due to isolation and lack of support.

“In the city, there seems to be a sense of community, where more services are available. For those in some rural areas, isolation seems to make the situation worse,” Constable Cannon said.

Tell us your story and sign the White Ribbon Foundation pledge to say no to violence against women by clicking on the link at www.thecourier.com.au

Editorial page 13

kim.quinlan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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