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Prevention of violence against women and children

Rosie Annear - Portraits of Respect

Mount Alexander Shire Council is committed to preventing violence against women and children through promoting gender equity. Our focus is on the prevention of violence before it occurs.

What is family violence?

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If you are at risk of immediate harm from family violence ring Victoria Police on 000 (triple zero).

Family violence is any:
• threatening,
• coercive,
• dominating or
• abusive behaviour,

that occurs between people in a family*, family/like, domestic or intimate relationship, or former intimate relationship, that causes the person experiencing the behaviour to feel afraid for their safety and wellbeing or for the safety of another person.

*A family can be one that we are born into or one that we choose.

Gender based violence is violence directed against a person because of their gender and can include:

• Psychological Abuse
• Economic Abuse
• Emotional Abuse
• Physical Abuse
• Sexual Abuse
• Elder Abuse
• Threatening, coercive or controlling behaviour

Did you know?

• 1 in 4 women experience partner violence
• Domestic violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in women aged 15-44
• A woman is killed by her intimate partner each week in Australia
• Children are present in 1 out of every 3 family violence incidents reported to police.
• It is estimated that the cost of domestic violence in Australia is $21.7 billion/year (2015)

You can find more statistics on the Safe and Equal website

Gender equality vs Gender equity

What is gender equality?

The equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of all people, regardless of gender. Gender equality does not mean that women, men, girls, boys and trans and gender diverse people will become the same but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend if they are born female or male.

What is gender equity?

Gender equity is the fairness of treatment of all people, regardless of gender, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different, but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations, and opportunities.

What is happening in our shire?

What is Council doing to prevent family violence?

Mount Alexander Shire Council (Council) aims to prevent violence before it occurs through various measures by addressing the underlying drivers of gender based family violence:

• condoning of violence against women
• men's control of decision making and limits to women's independence
• stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity
• disrespect towards women and girls
• male peer relationships that emphasize aggression.

Council has a commitment to:

• Implement initiatives aligned with the Gender Equality Act 2020 (Council Plan 2021-2025)
• Developing a gender equity policy and action plan (Council Plan 2021-2025)
• Incorporating family violence strategies into our Emergency Management responsibilities (Council Plan 2021-2025)
• Prevent family and gendered violence (6.1 Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2021-2025)
• Facilitate effective referral mechanisms between key stakeholders (6.2 Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2021-2025)
• Raise the profile of the prevention of violence at events and facilities to ensure safety, access and inclusion for all (6.3 Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2021-2025)
• Ensure Emergency Management works towards best practice of prevention of family violence (6.4 Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2021-2025)

We are actively working with the community to reduce family violence in the following ways:

Reestablishment of the Mount Alexander Family Violence Prevention Network

The Mount Alexander Family Violence Prevention Network (MAFVPN) is a broad collaborative partnership to provide advocacy and strategic support to deliver actions of the Loddon Mallee Action Plan for the primary prevention of violence against women.

MAFVN was unable to continue in 2021 due to changed government funding for the Central Victorian Primary Care Partnerships who led the network.

The membership consisted of organisations that provide services within the Mount Alexander Shire and/or those that are committed to reducing family violence in Mount Alexander.

Council is currently considering how best to reestablish a family violence network for our shire.

For more information on the previous MAFVN click on the animation to view the why, who and what of the network or visit Central Victoria Prevention and Population Heatlh

16 Days of Activism Against Gender based Violence

Each year, from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December, World Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism campaign calls for action against one of the world’s most persistent violations of human rights – violence against women.

During the 16 Days of Activism, people around the world unite to raise awareness about gender based violence, challenge discriminatory attitudes and call for improved laws and services to end violence against women for good.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign is an initiative that Council has supported since 2018. Through involvement with Respect Victoria’s "Respect: Call it Out" campaign, community and staff events have been delivered to raise awareness of gender based violence and the link to gender equality.

Recent events and activities have included:

• Candlelight vigil at Castlemaine Town Hall (2021)
• Gender Equality Quiz for council staff (2018 & 2019)
• Local business orange window display competition (2018 & 2019)
Respect : See it Through art exhibition (2020)
• Break the Chain – 1 Billion Rising flash mob dance - VIDEO (2019 & 2020)
Family Violence community vigil at Victory Park (2020)
• Portraits of Respect campaign (2018, 2019 & 2020)

For more information about the 16 Days of Activism campaign or for ideas and resources to get involved please visit the Safe and Equal website.

Gender Equality Act 2020

Council understands that gender equality is a fundamental human right and that gender inequality is a driving factor of family violence, violence against women and gender based violence.

Workplaces can play an important role in addressing and changing behaviour by challenging existing societal norms, such as gender inequalities, violence towards women and the role of women in society. Addressing stereotypical attitudes, gendered norms and gendered structures in the workplace can have a broader flow on effect that supports gender equality in society and ultimately working towards ending family violence and violence against women.

In 2020, the Victorian Government enacted the Gender Equality Act. The Act is recognised as an important opportunity for council to deepen and extend our commitment to gender equality and to continue to build upon our foundational work.

The Act requires local councils, to take positive action towards achieving workplace gender equality by:

1. promoting gender equality;
2. conducting gender impact assessments;
3. undertaking a workplace gender audit;
4. creating a Gender Equality Action Plan; and
5. reporting on progress.

Other Family Violence Networks

Council Officers sit on a number of family violence committees, networks and communities of practices in order to work collaboratively and stay up to date with best practice in our region on primary prevention initiatives to end gender based and family violence.

Council is a member of the Women's Health Loddon Mallee Collective Action for Respect and Gender Equality Act (CARE) Partnership which aims to connect, align and support organisations, clubs and community groups in their commitment to forwarding gender equality in their communities and preventing violence against women. To find out more or to join the regional CARE partnership please visit Women's Health Loddon Mallee CARE Partnership/

Council is also represented on the:

• Women’s Health Loddon Mallee Prevention of Violence Against Women Community of Practice (CoP)
• Women’s Health Loddon Mallee Gender Equity CoP
• Municipal Association of Victoria Gender Equality & Prevention of Violence Against Women and Gender Based Violence Network

Where can I find help / support services?

Breaking the Silence card

Developed in partnership with the City of Greater Bendigo and Macedon Ranges Shire Council, this resource card lists local and state-based services available to people experiencing, or at risk of, family violence.

The Breaking the Silence card also aims to educate the community about available services, as well as signs or behaviours that indicate someone is experiencing family violence.

The card is available at community hubs around the shire including Castlemaine Community House, Castlemaine District Community Health, Castlemaine Health, Castlemaine Library, Civic Centre, Maldon Hospital, Maldon Neighbourhood Centre, and Newstead Rural Transaction Centre.

View the Breaking the Silence Card.

Family violence support services and crisis contacts

Listed below are a range of local and statewide services to assist women, men and young people who have experienced violence, or are in potentially violent situations.

Local crisis and support services

Service How to contact What they provide Website
Centre for Non-Violence (03) 5430 3000 / 1800 884 292 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) Provides a range of services and programs for women and children experiencing family violence and/or homelessness, and programs for men who use violence towards family members across the Loddon region. www.cnv.org.au
Orange Door Mallee 1800 512 359 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) Free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and families who need extra support with the care of children. Also provides resources and links to local services www.orangedoor.vic.gov.au
ChildFIRST (Orange Door) 1800 512 359 Child and family support services
Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (03) 5442 4947 Aboriginal health and support services www.bdac.com.au
Chirp Community Health (03) 5479 1000 Free counselling support for individuals, family, children and young people. www.chirp.org.au
Dhelkaya Health (Castlemaine hospital) (03) 5471 1555 For urgent medical assistance use the Urgent Care Centre. www.castlemainehealth.org.au

Crisis and support services including after hours support

Service How to contact What they provide Website
safe steps 1800 015 188 (24 hours a day, seven days a week) For women and children who are victims of family violence www.safesteps.org.au
Child Protection Services 13 12 78 (5pm to 9am Monday to Friday, 24 hours on weekends) For children and young people whose safety is at risk https://services.dffh.vic.gov.au/child-protection
Sexual Assault Crisis Line Victoria 1800 806 292 (24 hours a day, seven days a week) Crisis counselling service for people who have experienced both past and recent sexual assault. www.sacl.com.au
Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817 or text 0427 767 891 (8am to 11pm every day) For adult male victims of family violence and victims of violent crime www.victimsofcrime.vic.gov.au
Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491 (8am to 9pm Monday to Friday; 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday) For men using controlling behaviour, women seeking information, and friends family or colleagues of people who are using or experiencing family violence. www.ntv.org.au
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) Free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service for young people aged between 5 and 25. www.kidshelpline.com.au
WithRespect 1800 LGBTIQ / 1800 542 847 (Business hours, and from 5pm to 11pm each Wednesday, 3pm to 10pm on Saturday and Sunday) Specialist LGBTIQ support service for those experiencing difficulty in their relationships including family violence. www.withrespect.org.au
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) Telephone and online counselling service for men with family and relationship concerns. www.mensline.org.au
1800RESPECT 1800 737 732 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) Counselling and support service for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse. www.1800respect.org.au
QLife 1800 184 527 (everyday 6pm-10pm) or text chat (everyday 3:00pm-12am). QLife provides anonymous and free LGBTIQA+ peer support and referral for people in Australia wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. www.qlife.org.au
InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence 1800 755 988 (weekdays 9:00am-5:00pm) To get in contact with a specialist family violence centre for women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, their families and communities. www.intouch.org.au

Information for young people

If you’re unsure what help you need, call Kids Helpline (ages 5 – 25 yrs) 1800 55 1800

If life is threatened, call 000 IMMEDIATELY

If You Need Help Right Now:

• Castlemaine Hospital Urgent Care Centre: 5471 3555
• Castlemaine Police: 5470 4100
• Lifeline (crisis support and suicide prevention): 13 11 14
• Mental Health Triage (mental health crisis): 1300 363 788
• Sexual Assault Crisis Line: 1800 806 292
• SuicideLine: 1300 651 251
• Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
• 1800 Respect (family violence or sexual assault): 1800 737 732

Children and young people are impacted by family violence whether they experience the violence directly or not.

The following services provide information and support for young people.

• For information on how to navigate respectful, consensual and equal relationships as a young person, visit The Line.

• An online guide to respect and abuse in relationships during childhood and adolescence https://www.dvrcv.org.au/help-advice/young-people

• What’s Okay at Home? When something’s not right at home, or in your family, you can access some crucial online information tailored to those aged 10 to 13 years, 14 to 17 years, and adult allies. www.woah.org.au

• Information for young people who use violence https://www.wire.org.au/young-people-who-use-violence/

• Youth Advocacy Centre Inc – legal information for young people on family violence https://www.yac.net.au/domestic-violence/

Resources for young people experiencing family violence:

https://www.yacvic.org.au/blog/covid-19-family-and-domestic-violence/
• Buzz it Card – List of support and services for young people created by the Mount Alexander Youth Advisory Group. To download visit https://mountalexandershireyouth.com.au/support-and-resources/

How can I show my support?

Get involved in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender based Violence each year. For more information on local activities contact Council on 5471 1700 or email m.fowler@mountalexander.vic.gov.au or s.gradie@mountalexander.vic.gov.au

Support the Respect Women: Call it Out campaign. Find information and resources at Respect Victoria

Participate in International Women’s’ Day held on 8 March each year. To find out how you can support International Women’s Day visit https://www.internationalwomensday.com/ or https://iwda.org.au/

Know your A-Z! Helpful resource to challenge gender stereotypes, promote respect and prevent violence. Download a poster or cards and share them in your workplace, school or club Safe and Equal.

Do something – Because doing nothing does harm. To find out what you can do to help prevent violence against women visit https://www.doingnothingdoesharm.org.au/. For more information, evidence and resources visit Our Watch

Watch and share the Change the Story video from Our Watch.

Attend Active Bystander training to help you safely intervene when you see or hear discrimination, sexism and sexual harassment. For information on training visit https://whv.org.au/training/active-bystander-training or check out the Online Active Bystander Project at Gender Equity Victoria

Download the Daisy app
Free app developed by 1800RESPECT to connect women experiencing family violence to support services near them. There is also information on what to expect when contacting services, including for legal, housing, family violence and other support services. Download Daisy from Google Play or Apple Store.

Download the Sunny app
Free app developed by 1800RESPECT with women with disability who have experienced violence and abuse or sexual assault to provide information and support. Download Sunny from Google Play or Apple Store.

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