Friday, 29 August 2014

Building Respectful Relationships as a Way to End Violence?

Next year is the 20th anniversary of the UN’s 4th World Conference of Women, held in Beijing, China in 1995. The Platform for Action included a section on the need to focus on the needs of young women – the Girl Child. A number of strategic objectives were identified including to eradicate violence against the girl-child and to promote the girl-child's awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life.

 In the light of the review and NCWV’s 2014 focus on ‘Young Women’  it was very gratifying that  NCW Victoria’s 2013 resolution for the 2014 Mid-term Conference in Alice Springs , was carried unanimously, calling on Australian governments to take further action to  better document the incidence of forced and early marriage in Australia and monitor the effect of the legislation;  to encourage increased community awareness of the law through educational, faith-based and civil society organizations;    and to facilitate culturally sensitive training to state and territory departments of justice, existing service providers and support agencies.

Now the latest funding round has recognised several NGOs for their work in this field including ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans). NCWV’s August Council meeting at Ross House, Flinders Lane, included a two member panel on the Girl Child theme: Erin Wicking, Girl Guides Victoria, Community Development Officer, speaking about some new initiatives including the ‘Because I Am a Girl’ partnership, and Christine Carolan, Project Officer, Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans, who provided a brief account of one what ACRATH was already doing and how ACRATH  will use its new funding.

While the community continues to struggle with what seems to be an epidemic of violence, there seems to have been little attention given to what might be done at school level. So we welcome the recent announcement from Education Minister the Hon Martin Dixon MP that a program aimed at Year 8 and 9 students is to be rolled out in State, Catholic and other private schools. The program, which has been successfully tried at four secondary schools, follows a 2009 VicHealth report that identified schools as high-risk areas for gender-based violence. Wes Hosking report in the Herald-Sun June 12, quoted Deakin University’s Dr Debbie Ollis, who helped write the program, as saying“… we’ve got to find a new way to try and prevent violence against women. “And it’s not just violence against women or children — it’s violence against men as well.”

There will be an opportunity to hear Dr Ollis speak on Building Respectful Relationships  at the NCW Victoria AGM on September 4. Click here to download the flyer for the AGM