Walk puts spotlight on family violence
MEMBERS of Mildura’s Indigenous community have taken part in the Walk Against Family Violence which coincides with the UN women’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence program.
To help send the message that family violence is never OK, Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS), joined the walked wearing orange as a symbol of a bright and optimistic future, free from violence against women.
The walk was undertaken at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to Victoria’s highest recorded rates of family violence in the state’s history, and was an opportunity for Mildura locals to show their support for women experiencing family violence.
MDAS Family Violence Therapeudic Support Team Leader, Delureen Kirby said that the group was taking part in the walk to advocate for the 16 days of activism against family violence.
“MDAS have a number of programs that support women and children who have previously or are currently experiencing family violence,” Ms Kirby said.
“We have family violence case managers who support women and children with referrals to counselling, financial counselling, housing applications and assisting with emergency relocating − either out of Mildura or to a safe-house motel.”
MDAS operate a women’s refuge called ‘Meninar Ngangg Gimba’ which is a culturally respectful and sensitive service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children dealing with family violence.
MDAS also assists victims with financial support through flexi-funding which can be used for housing accommodation, white goods, furniture, kitchen utensil and general household essentials and in some cases legal fees.
“The funding can also be used for education for children who may need tutoring if they have been deprived and fallen behind in their learning because of the trauma associated with the family violence they may have been exposed to,” Ms Kirby said.
“We have a referral and intake system and all it takes is a phone call to Meninar and people may also be referred from Orange Door or self-referral or through MDAS. While we primarily service Aboriginal women and children, we do also provide a service for non-Indigenous women who have Aboriginal children.
“In addition to our many levels of service we have also introduced a new ‘Therapeutic Healing Program which includes cultural healing, parenting strategies, group activities and we bring in Elders to speak to our clients about getting back to the basics of family culture and country and community. We also conduct activities such as basket weaving, yarning circles, jewellery making and healing by the river. We do a lot of our healing programs by the river because that is our safe place – our go to area.”
MDAS co-ordinator of Men’s Family Violence Gregory Sloan said that MDAS also have several programs that they run to support Indigenous men and adolescents as well.
“We teach them a ‘no to violence’ ethic and that it is not okay to be violent in the home,” he said.
“This walk is an opportunity to focus on that important principal to say no to violent behaviour.
“Unfortunately in our culture at the moment there is a lot of domestic violence and so we are teaching the men that it is not our way – it’s not in our culture.
“With the adolescents who have been exposed to domestic violence at home, we are teaching them that violence is not the way. This intervention is pivotal to breaking the cycle of family violence and halting the generation violence continuing.