A local campaign to help bring an end to domestic violence in the Bega Valley has started with representatives from multiple organisations publicly taking an oath refusing to condone, excuse or commit violence against women.
The campaign, launched by the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast (SJASC), with Mission Australia was launched at the Pambula Surf Life Saving Club on Thursday morning, March 10.
Attendees heard powerful testimony, especially from Chief Inspector Tony Moodie, of Bega Police who talked about some of the circumstances surrounding police investigations.
He stressed the important role of witnesses, not in getting involved in a situation, but in contacting and informing police.
Without giving details, he told of how the actions of two separate witnesses in reporting what they had seen to police, most likely saved a woman’s life.
The woman was being savagely beaten and suffered multiple fractures and it happened in the Bega Valley.
Only this week another local man was arrested in connection with acts of domestic violence and has been refused bail.
“The crime I have had a problem with in every area is domestic violence,” Inspector Moodie said.
Reinforcing the fact that it is a crime affecting local women, Mission Australia area manager, south eastern NSW, and White Ribbon Australia ambassador, Daniel Strickland said that at least 35 per cent of the homeless women at the Bega refuge have suffered domestic violence.
“To have this campaign led by men is fantastic. This is about seeing something and saying something.”
Mr Strickland spoke of the six years he spent in the police force and where most memorably he attended the scene of domestic violence.
“I remember holding the hand of a woman as she breathed her last breath,” Mr Strickland said.
“When we spoke to the neighbours they said that they were always arguing but had never reported it. Now things have changed. Men in this community are standing up and speaking out,” Mr Strickland said.
But he said that it was the little things that made a difference too. By not accepting overbearing behaviour by other men towards women, or the wolf whistles that might accompany a young woman passing a building site, men were setting a standard.
Anthony Basford, Bega Valley Shire Council’s group manager community relations and leisure, said that council had instigated a policy relating to domestic violence.
“Council is a snapshot of the community,” he said.
“We have a domestic violence procedure and policy for people who may be going through that in their life and we have zero tolerance in the workplace.”
Shane Grace of the SJASC took part in the White Ribbon event last November, ‘Walk a mile in her shoes’.
“I thought, while I walk a mile why don’t I walk the whole way. The action needs to come from men,” Mr Grace said.
“The culture of silence needs to be broken. Today is a great way of starting this campaign,” he said.
Mr Grace will be raising money for both the Women’s Resource Centre in Bega and the Bega Women’s Refuge when he embarks on his 1000km walk of the Camino Santiago de Compostela.
At the end of the presentations the group of representatives from local sporting clubs, community groups, schools and businesses stood together to swear the oath: “We swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.”
Gavin Bell, of the SJASC encouraged them all to make their own short video, and post it on their Facebook page and send it on to be posted online via Fairfax Media.
Geared towards social media, the campaign encourages organisations to make a short video of their staff or members taking the oath against domestic violence and post it on their Facebook/social media pages with the hashtag #NOFAMILYVIOLENCE.
Fairfax Media has thrown its support behind this cause and will also be posting the videos on the webpages of the Merimbula News Weekly, Bega District News, Bombala Times and Eden Magnet.
Mr Bell said he was very pleased with the initial response and hoped to see a plenty of videos.
If you’d like to know more contact Gavin Bell on 0411 564 120.
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