This month is designed to create a conversation, acknowledge the issue and understand how you can play your part in prevention. LGAQ Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) Lead, Jim Boden, sat down with us and discussed what this month and the topic means to him.
The first question we asked Jim was what DFV means to him and why it’s a growing national concern. “I think domestic and family violence is one of the greatest issues in our communities. The impacts are so far-reaching and damaging, not just to the immediate victim but to their families, friends and children. It has an impact on mental health, housing and development of children who become exposed to it,” Jim said.
Jim has been with the LGAQ for over a year now and sees his role as an opportunity to work with local governments on an issue and engage with others who are committed to improving their workplaces and communities.
Over the course of the year Jim has been here, he has been successful in working with our members and finding ways to raise awareness of this issue and educate people on why we need to be more aware of the ways to help.
One of the ways he is doing this is by working closely with council human resources teams and community officers. So far more than 44 councils are represented in these Community of Interest groups and many new activities, initiatives and campaigns have been supported as a result. Jim has also seen many councils play their part in working to end this issue in their communities. “Councils are doing an entire range of activities,” Jim says, “from building greater community awareness through red benches, walks through their towns, to the application of LGAQ-created DFV workplace guidance.”
Winton Shire Council for example, has done some exceptional work with its Safe at Home Never Alone campaign. An important element was the creation of an Emergency Hardship fund to support those in need and assist victims of crime. The community’s red benches have all had plaques installed, listing relevant support numbers, including a 24/7 local contact number. The next phase of the campaign will involve working with the local school to develop a structured peer support program for youth to address anti-social behaviours and teach them what violence and abuse look like when someone is using controlling behaviours.
As members of our own communities, we each have a part to play in helping to end domestic and family violence, says Jim.
“Dig deeper beyond the news stories and try to understand that abuse means victims do not always leave, and that someone can be abused without the obvious signs of injury,” he said.
“As parents we can speak to our children about this issue, educate and inform. It is within the next generations that I genuinely believe change of attitude around abuse and respect will come.
“As friends we can try and ensure that we listen and support, not try to 'fix' or provide opinions. Victims are often not heard and need a 'voice'.
“As community citizens we can act if we see something that does not look right. It might be about raising concerns to authorities, or it could just be reaching out to ask if everything is okay.”
Today marks the last day of May, meaning Domestic and Family Violence Prevention month awareness has come to an end. But Jim says this doesn’t mean we stop talking about it or acknowledging the issue. It's important that, even after this month comes to an end, we continue to have these conversations and focus on the issue.
“I would really like to see this as a year-round focus on the issues and the factors which cause it. It is important we acknowledge this is an ongoing issue – not just in the month of May.”