Council hits out against violence

THE City of Greater Bendigo has sent a clear message to the community that violence against women is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.In a unanimous decision on Wednesday night, the council signed and adopted a position statement to say no to violence against women.Councillors received a standing ovation, with staff from the Centre Against Sexual Assault and Emergency Accommodation and Support Enterprise witnessing the signing.Epsom ward councillor Lisa Ruffell said the statistics relating to physical, emotional and sexual abuse were astounding.“Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15 to 44,” she said. “We as local government have a profound influence on culture change, engaging people in our own communities and responding to local issues and priorities, including fostering a safe and inclusive environment in which women and men can participate on equal terms.”Flora Hill ward councillor Alec Sandner welcomed the move and said he took pleasure in signing it.“It is all very well to quote statistics such as 57 per cent women have experienced a form of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16, but what does that mean?” he said.“It means that there are 13 women in this room tonight and seven of them represent the proportion of people who have suffered violence since the age of 16. “It’s all very well to have statements from the UN, but passing this resolution brings it right to local government actions that the city can undertake.”Kangaroo Flat ward councillor Barry Lyons said that in the past 30 years he had seen a decline in personal values and the escalation of personal assault, particularly against women.“Years ago there was a standing unwritten law among us men that you never hit a woman; today it’s out the window,” he said.Mayor Rod Campbell said there was no way the community could tolerate violence against women.CASA chief executive Eileen Oates said councillors spoke with conviction and passion and made it clear that violence against women was something the community must not accept.