PEOPLE at a domestic violence forum yesterday hit back at comments made by Albury mayor Kevin Mack.
Cr Mack urged men and women not to walk alone after dark following the alleged sexual assault of a teenage girl in East Albury on Tuesday.
During question time at the forum, Fiona Garvie asked why it was always up to the victim to change their habits to be safe.
Having recently completed her community service diploma, Miss Garvie said it was exactly that attitude that needed to change.
“When I first read his comments it felt like we were being blamed — because we are walking alone it’s our fault that we are being preyed upon, but it’s not our fault,” Miss Garvie said.
“Why should I be told not to walk alone at night when there should be focus on awareness of what is actually happening out there and education saying to men not to attack women?”
Miss Garvie was one of 120 people who attended the event at TAFE NSW Riverina Institute Albury.
She said she had learnt domestic violence affected both men and women and believed it should be talked about all the time — not just when someone was attacked.
Students at the Albury TAFE studying a Diploma of Community Service organised the forum in partnership with the Albury Wodonga Family and Domestic Violence committee.
The day educated people on what domestic violence is, how it can affect people and what services are available.
Panellist and community service teacher at the TAFE, Di Sutherland, said there needed to be a change in attitudes toward gender.
“When it comes to gender stereotypes, like saying that women need to take measures to protect themselves, we need to make people aware that the way they respond to these incidents perpetuates those myths,” she said.
“Today really took us into that public arena talking about things that are uncomfortable and pushing that boundary to say let’s name things for what they are and get the support out there.”
Albury Wodonga family and domestic violence secretary Fiona Fenton said there was a focus on early intervention.
“Its something we can’t turn away from any more, we need to start educating people that violence is never the answer to anything,” Ms Fenton said.