May is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
So what is domestic violence awareness and why is it important?
Domestic violence, family violence and intimate partner violence all fall under the same umbrella. It is a term used to describe a pattern of behaviours used by one family member to exert power and control over another family member.
The violent person uses violence, threats, force or intimidation to control or manipulate a partner, former partner or another family member, such as a parent, sibling, cousin, aunt or uncle, grand-parent or step-parent.
It is important we continue to raise awareness of domestic and family violence within our community.
“I don’t know if the rate of domestic and family violence is increasing, that is a really hard question to answer” said Director of Client Services, Dearne Weaver, “There are more people accessing services, which is great! Due to more awareness campaigns and the increasing political appetite to address the issue the community has become more and more involved with having these conversations. By us having these conversations, we are creating awareness which in turn is encouraging people to reach out.”
In 2010/11 DVCS supported 1,849 clients and engaged in 12,525 contacts. In 2019/20, DVCS supported 4,317 clients and engaged in 70,345. That’s an increase of 133% and 462% respectively over the past nine years.
“Unfortunately we do not see any reason to believe this year will be any different. Over the past five years, our numbers have seen a steady increase. While we think it’s great that people are reaching out and seeking out supports, it shows how far we still have to go and how much more work we still have to do” said Ms Weaver.
DVCS works closely with a range of other stakeholders to ensure awareness grows within our community about the dynamics of domestic and family violence, the drivers and triggers and how people can seek support. In addition to supporting those subjected to violence, DVCS works with those who use violence and are seeking to understand and change their own behaviours and beliefs.
DVCS is proud to work within our local community, collaborating with a range of other community organisations, sporting teams, private businesses and government departments to build awareness. DVCS engages with media to help increase awareness and advocate on the issue more broadly and hosts fundraising and awareness raising events and campaigns. DVCS are regular contributors to HerCanberra, TheRiotAct, ABC Canberra and Canberra Weekly.
DVCS started their Ambassadorship program in 2015. Then it consisted of just four people, Adam Shirley, Alan Tongue, Amanda Whitley and Christian Lealiifano. Six years later and the program has grown to include Juliet Moody and Catherine Crawley, Sue Webeck, Andrew Muirhead and Genevieve Jacobs. The program will continue to grow in the coming months. DVCS Ambassadors support DVCS’ work by attending and supporting events, engaging in media and providing valuable social media space.
DVCS commenced their DVCS Social Media Champion program a few years later. This program works with members of our community to spread our message across the ACT community. This is a super easy way for members of our community to support the work DVCS does from the comfort of their own home.
DVCS also provides more learning opportunities in a variety of mediums and timeframes. People are able to learn online or in person, from 30 minutes to whole day sessions. They are learning more about the different dynamics of domestic and family violence, how to manage disclosure and be a bystander. These are all useful tools for everyone to have.
On the first Wednesday of May each year, DVCS hosts a candle light vigil to recognise the National Day of Remembrance. Similar events are held all around Australia at the same time. The vigil acknowledges those who have died in the ACT as a result of domestic and family violence and acknowledges the many, many children who have been left without a parent. This year’s ceremony is being held on Wednesday 5 May from 5.45pm at Ainslie Place, Canberra City. Anyone is welcome to attend. The vigil lasts just under one hour and offers a beautiful opportunity to remember and reflect. This year’s event will be streamed lived on the DVCS Facebook page.
28 May is LGBTIQA Domestic Violence Awareness Day, 2021 which is the second year this day has been acknowledged. This day is specifically dedicated to members of LGBTIQA communities acknowledging their experiences of domestic and family violence, which are often different and complex.
So what can you do? You can do heaps! Come along to one of DVCS’s events, engage with our social media platforms, chat with your friends, family and colleagues about domestic and family violence, sign up as a Social Media Champion or volunteer.
And you don’t have to limit your engagement just to the month of May. You can do it all year round, just as DVCS tries to do.
#DomesticViolenceAwarenessMonth #LGBTIQADomesticViolenceAwareness #NationalDayofRemembrance