"This year is the 30th anniversary of when the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence all began, when 23 women met at the Women's Global Leadership Institute to talk about gender-based violence" said Michael Oerlemans, Regional Director with Anglicare Victoria, "and from that humble beginning it this has grown to an international movement with the backing of United Nations declarations and community-based commemorations around Australia and the world".
The global theme for this year is Orange the World: End violence against women now! Orange is the colour of the UN Secretary-General's UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. It's a bright and optimistic colour representing a future from violence against women and girls.
This resonates particularly with the Orange Door family violence and child wellbeing services established set up by Family Safety Victoria.
The 16 days of Activism runs from the 25 November to 10 December 2021. The starting date is the day for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the commemoration finishes on Human Rights Day, recognising that this is an issue for us all.
As workers we approach every day with the optimism that we can support change for individuals and maybe even create a better world.- Anglicare Victoria's Orange Door program manager Melissa Rockes
Melissa Rockes is the Program Manager responsible for Anglicare Victoria's program in the Orange Door.
"Every day we work with families including victim survivors of family violence. Family violence is predominately gender-based and takes a great toll on our community affecting women and children in life-changing ways", she said. "As workers we approach every day with the optimism that we can support change for individuals and maybe even create a better world".
Locally Anglicare Victoria is going with the theme this year promoted by 1800Respect - Respect is (Call it Out).
Anglicare Victoria is making commitments to 'call out' behaviours that don't foster respect; standing up for equality; working to prevent violence against women, and supporting families of all shapes, sizes and diversity.
"Our staff" said Michael Oerlemans "will be marching on Thursday in real life, or virtually, to demonstrate our commitment to respect and the 16 days of activism, in Bendigo, Echuca and Maryborough".
During the 16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women and children we are asked to consider what is respect and to call out violence - but why is this important, and what happens when we don't?
The pandemic has sharpened the public's view of violence - and of what occurs in homes every day in Australia. For many women and children, the pandemic has amplified violence, an experience that women try to manage, and escape, and children live with every day.
Sexual assault is common in Australia. At the Centre Against Sexual Assault Central Victoria (CASACV) they provide specialist counselling to over 1100 people per year and over a third of clients are children and young people under the age of 18. In their work, they see children who have experienced sexual abuse, often perpetrated by someone known to the child - this is backed up by the statistics with 11% of women (1 million) and 4.6% of men (412,000) experiencing childhood sexual abuse, most commonly by a known and trusted person. When children don't feel safe at home, or in places where people in trusted positions abuse them, they don't feel safe anywhere.
What happens when we don't call out and name behaviours of abuse, violence and harassment? Sexual assault negatively affects a person wellbeing and may lead to adverse long-term physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health outcomes. There are also implications for the broader community that impact people's general feelings of safety, and the economic costs of providing criminal, legal, health, housing and other support services to women and children escaping family violence.
Sexual assault is both a consequence and a reinforcer of the power disparity existing largely between men, and women and children. Sexual assault often occurs within family violence and occurs outside of the family context by people that we know, have met and are in trusted positions.
It is time to stop the violence, harassment, abuse and disrespect. It begins with each one of us standing up, taking account of our actions, having conversations with our partners, friends, family, in schools, in workplaces, holding others to account, reflecting on our own behaviour, and changing our society together.
You're invited to the conversation with leading local violence prevention experts talking consent and gendered violence prevention on December 9 at 4.30pm. Register at https://events.humanitix.com/the-consortium-talks-consent
Contact CASACV on 5441 0430 for more. Helplines: In an emergency call 000. Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1800 806 292 (24hrs). 1800Respect (National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line) Tel. 1800 737 732