Raising awareness of an awful truth

Hardly a day goes by without reference in the various media to the prevalence of domestic violence in our society and the measures taken by individuals, governments, not-for-profits and other bodies to care for victims in the short term and bring about real change in the longer term. Of course, the sooner awareness grows and attitudes change, the better!

One step towards raising awareness was taken on Friday evening under the auspices of the diocese’s Social Justice Council. “No more: break the violence” was the theme of a dinner featuring three speakers with expertise in various areas.

Robyn Donnelly (CatholicCare Social Services/Office of Life and Faith) presented on healthy relationships, how to communicate and discuss the important issues effectively.

Hon Natasha Maclaren-Jones MLC, Chair of the Parliamentary Friend for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse, addressed the gathering on government initiatives to prevent domestic violence.

Suellyn Moore of Nova Women spoke about the services offered by Nova Women, all supporting the premise that “Women and children matter”.

In advocating that, “We must break the cycle, not manage the violence”, Natasha Maclaren-Jones spoke of a pathway, supported by the Federal Government to the tune of millions of dollars, that attempts to bring together the threads of the issue: homelessness, reducing recidivism, supporting police to support victims and educating both students and the community generally.

Suellyn Moore explained that while Nova Women is reaching out to 150 women each month – including utilising “Betty”, the mobile service – this is not adequate given the scope of the issue. “Leaving a violent or abusive relationship permanently can take on average six attempts.” This makes apparent the importance of continuing to support someone in an abusive relationship even if she returns to the family home.   

Including Robyn Donnelly on the bill was perhaps the clearest nod to the way forward. Robyn is a strong advocate of ‘right relationships’: safe relationships, satisfying relationships and relationships that last. This effectively reduces relationship meltdown, relationship breakdown, relationship fatigue and potentially, in some cases, domestic violence.

Chair of the Social Justice Council, Shirley McHugh, said that sees this event as one step in a long journey towards increased awareness, support, education and understanding.

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Tracey Edstein Image
Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is the editor of Aurora Magazine, the official magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.