Ballarat leaders unite to end violence

A new strategy will promote gender equality and denounce violence against women in Ballarat.

LEADING THE WAY: Women’s Health Grampians chief executive Marianne Hendron launches a new plan denouncing violence against women. Picture: Kate Healy

LEADING THE WAY: Women’s Health Grampians chief executive Marianne Hendron launches a new plan denouncing violence against women. Picture: Kate Healy

The Grampians ‘Communities of Respect and Equality’ four-year plan was launched in the city earlier this week. The strategy lays the foundation for violence prevention work and aims to promote gender equality. It also calls on workplaces and organisations to take action and make a commitment to end violence against women.

The plan was launched by more than 100 community leaders including Ballarat MP and Victorian Agriculture and Regional Development Minster Jaala Pulford.

“This plan is an extraordinary demonstration of regional commitment and represents communities who have come together to show zero tolerance for family violence,” she said.

Ms Pulford said it was sad indictment that such a plan was needed.

However, she said the damage being caused by the scourge of family violence meant communities needed to band together to break the cycle.

Statistics showed people living in regional and rural communities were at 65 per cent higher risk of violence due to factors including social isolation, access to services and limited transport.

She said it was critical recommendations of Victoria’s landmark Royal Commission into Family Violence, including the establishment of one-stop-shop safety hubs across the state, were rolled out as soon as possible.

Ballarat MP Jaala Pulford.

Ballarat MP Jaala Pulford.

Ms Pulford said underpinning the entire issue was a culture of gender inequality which must be eradicated.  

Women’s Health Grampians chief executive Marianne Hendron said there was no place for violence against women in society.

“We want our communities to be safe communities where we value women and men equally, where women and men, girls and boys have the same rights and opportunities in all parts of their life,” Ms Hendron said.

“As basic as this sounds, unfortunately we are far from there at the moment.”

The plan detailed the high level of family violence in the Grampians region.

Of the 75,385 family incidents reported to Victoria Police last year 3,705 of them occurred in the Grampians region. Ms Hendron said while it represents 5 per cent of the state’s total, the Grampians region accounted for less than 4 per cent of the Victorian population.

Denise Siermans whose daughter Sharon was murdered in Ballarat in 2013 by Jason John Dinsley while he was on parole lauded the report. She said the overwhelming grief and impact of his daughters left would never leave her.

“I would hate any other family to go through what we have been through,” she said.