After learning about the devastating and far-reaching effects of family violence, a group of 20 young men from Wodonga’s Congolese community wrote and produced a song to share the lessons with a wider audience.
The song and music video Stop the Violence was launched at The Cube Wodonga on Tuesday, and is designed to show how attitudes towards women and girls can feed into family violence.
Patrick Bandolewa, 20, said the message behind the tune was simple.
“We just want people to listen and stop the violence,” he said.
The project was born out of a series of workshops run by White Ribbon and Gateway Health designed to help men understand domestic violence, its causes and what they can do to prevent it.
White Ribbon’s Ester Obdam said it was the group’s idea to make a song and video, which showed they had really taken the workshops’ message on-board and wanted to enact change.
“It was really good, it was a very concrete way to spread the message,” she said.
Gateway Health’s Patrick Sibomana, who is also a White Ribbon ambassador, worked with the Congolese community to produce the song and discuss its themes and messages.
He hopes people, especially young men, listen to the song and reflect on their own actions.
“I hope the song encourages young men to be responsible in taking action to stop violence,” he said.
“And I hope it raises awareness within the community.
“Family violence can still be a silent or hidden thing so we hope this helps raise awareness so people don’t think it’s normal.”
Gateway Health family violence specialist Stacey Telford said the workshops showed family violence was not just a physical act but a part of a wider picture.
“This program takes a zero tolerance stance to gendered violence and family violence,” she said.
“It’s about calling out gendered violence, not standing for language that puts down women and encouraging equality within the community, not just the Congolese community but all communities within Australia.”
Wodonga mayor Anna Speedie said Wodonga’s rate of domestic violence was too high, especially compared to the state average.
“We know family violence doesn’t just affect the family impacted but has a wider reaching impact on the whole community,” she said.
“Thank you for stepping forward, owning this space and taking your message to a wider community.
“It’s up to each and everyone of us to make a change.”
For family violence support or information contact 1800 RESPECT or Safe Steps on 1800 015 188.
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