City’s war on family violence

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THE Wodonga Council is out to cut the city’s high rate of family violence with the help of a new program.

It has adopted a North East scheme that tackles gender power imbalances in homes, sporting clubs and workplaces.

The city’s community lifestyle manager, Debbie MacKinlay, yesterday said the strategy would help the council with an issue already high on the council’s radar.

“We have a high ratio of family violence,” she said.

“It’s something that we’ve known for some time is an issue.”

The state government- funded program is being trialled at Benalla.

The Benalla football club, council and health centre will be the first organisations to receive training and guidance to tackle inequalities.

Ms MacKinlay, a member of the program’s working committee, said how it would be implemented in Wodonga would depend on the outcome of the 12-month pilot scheme.

“We will then tailor it to our needs,” she said.

“We need to make the community aware that domestic violence is not appropriate, not something we want.”

A program would probably start in Wodonga sooner — in the second half of this year.

Women’s Health Goulburn North East health promotion worker Caitlyn Hoggan said the aim was to stop violence against women and children before it started.

“This project is about a cultural change,” she said.

“Patriarchy has been embedded into our organisations.

“We want to remove the bias and power imbalance that gives legitimacy to men’s control over women.”

Ms Hoggan said sexist jokes, comments and attitudes were a starting point that could result in violence and needed to be stamped out.

Indigo and Moira councils are also negotiating to sign up for the program.

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