EDITORIAL:Abuse must be stopped
DOMESTIC violence will continue to grow unchecked unless communities unite to tackle the problem, a Wodonga forum heard yesterday.
That message was delivered to an audience of about 70 people by Sydney family violence survivor Lani Brennan.
Miss Brennan had been invited to Wodonga by the Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation.
Corporation family violence worker Sharyn Jenkins had bought a book Miss Brennan wrote about her experiences.
From there, another corporation worker floated the idea of inviting her to the Border.
Miss Brennan said those who attended her talk found it refreshing what she discussed was “not just based on statistics”.
“I’m a real-life story and I just travel around Australia to give people some hope, to say that no matter what happens you can change your life,” she said.
Miss Brennan said there needed to be more refuges, a freeing-up of rules governing placements at refuges and more support workers for victims in family law matters.
“I’ve heard that on the Border there’s not enough support workers,” she said.
“I think it’s very crucial that if you’re going to court that you have someone with you so you’re not feeling so alone and intimidated.”
Miss Brennan said nothing would get better unless people were willing to stand up as a community.
Her own story is that of growing up in an urban Aboriginal community in Sydney.
Miss Brennan said she had plenty of love, but by 13 she had spiralled into a cycle of drug and alcohol abuse.
That was followed by a relationship with a young man from her community, an abusive situation that she almost didn’t survive.
Eventually she escaped the extreme physical and sexual abuse of her partner and had the courage to stand up for herself by taking her abuser to court.
Miss Brennan said people suffering domestic violence on the Border needed the support of a united community to have any hope of escaping their predicament.
“We always talk about the survivors who come forward needing support,” she said.
“They shouldn’t be judged and services have got to be put in place for what exactly needs to be done.”
Miss Brennan said a lot of services needed more funding to keep programs going for women who suffered domestic violence.
“How can workers do their jobs if the money’s not available?” she said.
Miss Brennan said her impression from speaking to people on the Border was more prevention programs needed to be introduced, especially for children.