Marchers deliver a blow against the scourge of domestic violence…
STRONG gusts of wind threatened to push locals off track during the fifth annual walk to end family violence throughout the streets of Pakenham on White Ribbon Day on Wednesday 25 November.
However, anti-violence marchers strengthened their stride to show they would not stand for violence.
Black and white balloons carried by more than double the number of walkers who turned out to last year’s peaceful walk through central Pakenham presented a strong message to the community – “we will not tolerate violence”.
Increasingly, men are taking responsibility for the issue of family violence with the majority of domestic assaults committed by men, particular those known to the victim.
John Veloso, 37, a father of three boys under the age of nine, said he actively challenges men who make sexist comments in a bid to mould the community’s perception of gender and equality for the sake of future generations.
“I am here to take a stand against violence.
“There is no place for that in our society yet it’s becoming a bigger problem, and people don’t realise it,” he said.
Mr Veloso, who works as in youth welfare support, practices what he preaches – inside and outside the home.
“I want to make sure I am modelling the right message to my boys. I want them to be respectful to their mum and to girls and eventually women.
“When I pick up on comments or innuendos that incite or encourage inequality by men, I call them out.
“Sometimes men think it’s OK but it’s not.
“It’s easier to walk away and ignore those comments but you have to be brave to help stop it.”
For the past 10 years, foster carer Emma Firth has opened her door to young people who have been removed from or have left their family home – largely caused by family violence issues.
She pounded the pavement in an attempt to shine a light on this issue that she has seen create long-term, traumatic impacts on young people.
“A lot of young people in and out of home care have been impacted by family violence.
“They show signs of ongoing trauma as a result of the violence,” she said, linking violence to the substance abuse and mental health problems that are experience by many foster children.
The walk was followed by a family violence awareness talk at Pakenham Hall by a number of notable speakers including Bass MP Brian Paynter, Pakenham police Senior Sergeant Graeme Stanley, Richmond Football Club CEO Brendan Gale and Cardinia shire councillor Jodie Owen.
Snr Sgt Stanley said Cardinia shire had seen an alarming increases in family violence reports in the past five years – but police are working to combat the epidemic with more dedicated officers and training.
“We are doing much more now than ever before,” he said.
Mr Gale said he often thinks about the future of his two daughters when thinking about the dire need for change in the community’s attitudes about gender and equality.
“For parents, there is nothing more important in the world than our kids’ future,” he said.
“The sad fact is that for some girls, life beyond their childhood home will be a nightmare of domestic violence.
“Someone who was held so precious may be abused by someone else.”
Mr Gale said the Richmond Football Club had adopted workplace values which empower women.
In Cardinia shire between July 2014 and June 2015, police received 1319 reports of family violence, up 12 per cent on the incidents recorded in the previous 12-month period.
The area also scored the highest five-year rise in domestic violence reports across the city’s south east.
Cardinia Shire Council is soon due to launch an initiative to help decrease men’s violence toward women called Together We Can.