Inverell invited to join White Ribbon march against violence

Inverell's 2016 White Ribbon march. Photo by Michele Jedlicka.
Inverell's 2016 White Ribbon march. Photo by Michele Jedlicka.

“Violence is not ok.” 

That is the message Rural Outreach and Support manager Vicki Higgins most wants locals to take away from Inverell’s White Ribbon march next week.

“It doesn’t matter what sort of violence. No violence is ok,” she said.

The town is invited to march as one to show the town’s zero tolerance stance towards domestic and family violence on Thursday, November 23. Participants will gather at the Tatt’s Hotel at 9.45am and march along Byron and Otho Streets, finishing at the Inverell Shire Council for morning tea.

Emma Waters from Rural Outreach said she hopes the event will raise community awareness.

“People can see the signs and be able to help – have the confidence to be able to help as well,” she said.

It’s a violation of human rights and should not be tolerated.

Trish Thomas

Hosted by the Inverell community violence prevention team with support from the White Ribbon community pilot project (WRCPP) team, the march precedes International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25.

A bystander training session will also be held at the town library this Thursday, November 16, to teach men how they can challenge violent and disrespectful behaviour towards women.

Pathfinders Specialist Homelessness Services manager Trish Thomas said it’s important to continue to educate the community, including young people, to prevent the cycle of violence from being passed down to the next generations.

“Domestic and family violence is the key cause of women, children and young people becoming homeless,” she said. 

“It’s a violation of human rights and should not be tolerated, and that’s a message that we need to continue to share year-round.”

Rural Outreach and Support manager Vicki Higgins.

Rural Outreach and Support manager Vicki Higgins.

Ms Higgins said victims often had trouble identifying violent behaviour, and didn’t realise that emotional and financial abuse were common forms of domestic violence. 

“A lot of the time, people think ‘If it’s not physical, I’m not being hit, then I can’t call it abuse,’” Ms Waters explained.

“So they might put up with a lot more, (but) often it’s a warning sign that it might eventuate with physical violence as well.”

Ms Higgins said financial abuse involved “Totally controlling somebody’s money and what they’re allowed to spend, and monitoring every little cent they spend”. 

She said a typical case might involve an alcoholic or smoker who uses most of the finances on their addiction, and expects their partner to stretch a meagre budget for the rest of the household costs. The victim will often be hindered by a wide range of restrictions on how they can use money.

Ms Waters said control was also a main factor in emotional abuse. She said an abuser often isolates their partner from friends and family, and undermines their ability to think and make decisions for themselves.

“A lot of the time people are so distressed because of the situation and not having control, that they might feel like they don’t have the capacity to make decisions or to be able to see clearly and think that it’s their fault,” she said.

“When problems are blamed on the victim, they start to believe it after a long period of time.”

The WRCPP team invited men to take the White Ribbon oath.

The WRCPP team invited men to take the White Ribbon oath.

The march will come almost one month after the Inverell WRCPP team set up a tent displaying White Ribbon posters and messages at the Sapphire City Festival.

Ms Thomas joined staff members Daisy Brown and Tim Chard in inviting locals to learn about the White Ribbon Oath and to understand what it means to stand up, speak out and act to stop men’s violence against women before it starts.

Six local men took the White Ribbon Oath online via an iPad provided by the Inverell Shire Council.

Ms Thomas, said the efforts of these men are to be commended, as it takes a proactive initiative to take time at a social event to take an oath for such an important cause.

For more information on the Inverell White Ribbon March, contact 6721 0855 or admin@ruraloutreach.net.au. To learn more about the bystander training session, visit this link or email Stephen.Golding@inverell.nsw.gov.au. 

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.