Women's Health Grampians has launched a new four-year strategy for community-wide work on gender equality as a key action to prevent violence against women.
Chief executive Marianne Hendron launched the Communities of Respect and Equality (CoRE) 2021 to 2025 Strategy during an online event joined by almost 100 people on Wednesday.
It is the second four-year strategy for CoRE, an alliance of organisations, businesses, clubs and groups that are committed to creating safe, equal and respectful communities in the region.
More than 120 members are taking action to help drive cultural change, reduce barriers to gender equality and re-frame cultural norms and acceptable behaviour.
We measured great progress within CoRE over the past five years but the incidences of family violence is alarming.Marianne Hendron, Women's Health Grampians chief executive
Ms Hendron said creating significant cultural shift was a long-term endeavour.
"We measured great progress within CoRE over the past five years but the incidences of family violence is alarming," she said.
"We have a vision for a safe, equal and respectful society for everyone, where women and their children live free from violence."
Crime Statistics Agency data showed a 40 per cent increase in family violence incidents recorded to police in Ballarat in 2020 compared to 2019.
The family violence incidence rates are above the state average in more than half the local government areas in the Grampians region, including in Ballarat.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows approximately one in four women has experienced violence and emotional abuse by an intimate partner.
CoRE supports members to take action to challenge the condoning of violence, promote women's independence in decision making and challenge gender roles.
Other key actions are to strengthen equal and respectful relationships and promote and normalise gender equality.
The strategy document outlines cultural change, systems change including policy improvement, collective impact by growing CoRE across the region and knowledge transfer to respond to issues as key objectives.
It includes an increased focus on intersectionality, which acknowledges gender inequality is compounded by other forms of discrimination including race, Aboriginality, religion, disability, age and gender identity.
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Ms Hendron said members would be asked to recommit to the new CoRE strategy and meet new minimum expectations introduced.
CoRE will support members from the public sector including councils, hospitals and universities to meet their obligations under the new Victorian Government Gender Equality Act 2020.
Women's Health Grampians diversity and inclusion lead Kate Diamond-Keith said equality advocates were available to share their lived experience of discrimination and inequality with CoRE members.
She said this program had been expanded with two new youth equality advocates Ayak Akon and Karissa Cribbes.
The Youth Equality for All project highlights young women's lived experience of mental health and employment struggles during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Cribbes and Ms Akon feature in a video created to help advise CoRE members on actions to support young women in employment.
Ms Cribbes said she felt frightened for her future last year when she could not secure a job and struggled with social isolation.
"I need to know what I am not doing right. What can I do, how can I improve my resume? How can I seem like a better hopeful employee?," she said.
"I have been wanting to use my Chinese name more but a lot of Chinese people don't get a job because of their name, especially during COVID with all the Asian hate."
Ms Akon said she was motivated to find work, but when COVID hit everything stopped.
"People who had vacancies completely shut down," she said.
Data shows women were more likely to be in casual and insecure positions and have lost their job during COVID and 30 to 40 per cent of working young people became unemployed during the pandemic.
Ms Akon and Ms Cribbes recommended CoRE members to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants, de-identify resumes so young women from diverse backgrounds were considered, recognise volunteer experience and acknowledge unconscious bias towards young people.
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