Cardinia’s march for change

Pakenham Gazette_20160504_P7

Cardinia Shire Council has launched the Together We Can initiative, announcing that family violence would be treated as the number one priority for the region.

Representatives from various community groups across the shire, as well as individuals, walked around Lakeside’s lake to make a stand against family violence.

CEO Garry McQuillan said Together We Can was the first council-led initiative of its kind in Australia aimed at tackling family violence issues.

Upon taking to the lectern, he explained that he had felt moved by the lyrics voiced during Outlook’s All Together Choir’s opening performance.

Mr McQuillan said that the phrases ‘Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow’ and ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ had resonated with him because they “set the vision” for the Together We Can initiative.

Cardinia Shire has the second highest rates of recorded family violence incidents in Melbourne’s southern metropolitan region.

There were as many as 1364 family violence incidents reported in Cardinia Shire during 2014/15 alone, according to Victoria Police reports, which is 15 per cent higher than the state average.

Recent figures show that there are about six intervention orders and safety notices issued within the shire each week, with about 40 per cent of these incidents involving children being present, Mr McQuillan said.

“Let’s put a human face on those numbers. What they mean is that someone, somewhere in our community is experiencing serious domestic abuse on a daily basis, often in front of their children,” he said.

“Our local police and other services recognise the huge issue that family violence is in the area, and are doing excellent work with perpetrators, victims and survivors. But more needs to be done, by everyone.”

Mr McQuillan said research showed a “strong link” between early experiences of family violence and homelessness.

“They are more vulnerable to behavioural and learning difficulties, health problems, and are more likely to develop mental health issues.

“Many children who witness family violence often come to believe it is normal.

“And that is not acceptable.”

The council has partnered with Family Life, the University of Melbourne and the Australian Government’s Department of Social Services to head the Together We Can initiative.

All sectors of the Cardinia Shire community will work together towards creating “long-term change”.

Together We Can would support the current work of the Southern Metropolitan Regional Management Forum, the Challenge Family Violence Project and the shire’s Family Violence Action Team.

“During a one-week period last year, our Maternal and Child Health nurses supported 24 clients where family violence was identified. Is this acceptable?” Mr McQuillan posed.

“Let’s bring family violence out from behind closed doors – because it doesn’t belong there.”

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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