Influential local men are being challenged to learn how they can help reduce domestic violence in Inverell.
A bystander and leadership skill-building session will explore various forms of violence, practical tools for promoting respect for women and how men can be positive role models.
“It gives you the tools where you can safely challenge certain behaviours and also intervene if you come across an act of domestic violence against women and children,” Inverell Shire Council executive manager of corporate and community services Stephen Golding said.
White Ribbon executive manager Liam Dooley will visit Inverell to conduct the session this Thursday.
He said sometimes it can be difficult to know what to say when someone makes an inappropriate statement about women or behaves inappropriately towards a woman.
“Bystander training provides men with practical tips and tools for speaking out”, Mr Dooley said.
The training follows a community survey in March which indicated most locals would like to do something about stopping domestic and family violence in the community, but almost one in five were not sure what they could do.
“Attending the bystander training session on Thursday is a great place to start. Domestic and family violence is a society problem, not an individual one,” Inverell Shire mayor Paul Harmon said.
“We all need to know how we can change own behaviour by saying or doing something different.”
Mr Golding said the training was about increasing community awareness of the issues surrounding domestic violence and to teach men how to reject negative behaviour associated with violence.
“If we start challenging those types of behaviours, we can then slowly but surely eradicate it from the community,” he said. He likened it to smoking in public, which he argued was no longer socially acceptable behaviour due to a gradual change in culture and deeper understanding of the health risks.
“White Ribbon Australia and our community project is not stating that all men are violent, nor is it stating that those that are, are totally to blame,” Mr Golding said.
He acknowledged that environmental factors such as growing up in violent home could impact future behaviour. He said if those factors are addressed, we could work towards breaking cycles of violence.
Chair of the New England Violence Prevention Initiative Susan Heyman said Inverell has made some great progress with the White Ribbon Community project to date and the time is right to shift gears and turn our words into action.
“It sounds so simple to just ‘say something or do something’ but we know it’s not. Importantly we want to make sure that anyone that does stand up or speaks out about violence does so safely”, Ms Heyman said.
To participate, email Stephen.Golding@inverell.nsw.gov.au. The training will be at the Inverell Library meeting room from 12.30-2.30pm on Thursday, November 16.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800respect.org.au for information and support.