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Local fight against domestic violence

A group of young people are working together to prevent violence against women in their area, writes Tijan Biner.

At least one woman dies at the hands of their current or former partner every week.

Good People Act Now (GPAN) is a not-for-profit prevention program that aims to end family violence, and particularly, violence against women.

Supported by Gandel Philanthropy and the Department of Justice, the group of young people deliver prevention activities in Broadmeadows and surrounding suburbs.

Member of GPAN, Channa De Silva, tells upstart that the group’s role in family violence is advocacy.

“Our mission is to educate the community about the causes and effects of family violence,” De Silva says.

“It is our belief that violence against women stems from poor attitudes towards women. For example, women should be in the kitchen, women should be at home, and men should be the sole wage earners, women are possessions.

“These are the attitudes we are aiming to change in the community, particular in the younger generation.”

The group meet every Wednesday at Banksia Gardens Community Services to plan future events.

upstart recently attended a prevention program forum, hosted by GPAN, that consisted of a live Q&A with family violence experts, and a role play entertainment segment.

The event began with a lighting of a single candle, to acknowledge all of the victims of domestic violence.

A one-man role play followed, which demonstrated different ways family and friends can help a woman leave an abusive relationship.

Attendees were split into groups to brainstorm questions to ask the expert panel.

A health prevention minister for Women’s Health In The North and one of the experts on the panel, Annie Douglass, tells upstart that she has worked closely with GPAN for some time.

“We have been a strong support partner for the GPAN program,” Douglass says.

“As the regional health service, the prevention of violence against women is a key priority for our work.”

Educator at Chisolm College in the family violence department, Donna Wray, tells upstart that there should be a large focus on men in domestic violence prevention.

“What frustrates me is the whole myth of ‘why doesn’t she just leave?’. The focus should be on him – ‘why doesn’t he stop committing violence?’ rather than ‘why doesn’t she leave?’,” Wray says.

“We could make more of an impact with male mentors coming through. To minimise the issue, men have to educate men to make this truly workable.”

Events, such as the Family Violence Forum, serve as a reminder that there’s a lot to be done to prevent domestic violence.

“These events provide a platform for important issues to be discussed in a formal and public setting, and it raises the public profile of an issue each time it is raised in an event like this,” De Silva says.

“The forum in particular allowed members from the community who have a passion for the prevention of family violence to be in a room with like minded people and ask questions of experts in the field.”

At GPAN events, all members wear distinctive jumpers to promote the group. But what stands out is the colours the group chooses to wear.

“In the interest of promoting healthy attitudes towards women and just gender equality promotion in general, the men wear pink hoodies to show that men can wear pink just like women wear blue,” De Silva says.

“And the women wear blue hoodies just like men wear blue to show the same.”

Recent research shows that one in three women have experienced domestic violence, one in five women have experienced sexual violence, and one in four women have experienced emotional abuse.

GPAN’s website offers helpful information on how to stop, and escape from, an abusive partner.

They advise people to treat their partners kindly, for men to help with the housework, for men to speak respectfully about women, to intervene when they see people behaving aggressively, and to stop victim blaming and slut shaming.

“We have the power to do little things everyday, in so many situations, to change the culture and attitudes that support violence against women,” their website said.



De Silva hopes that GPAN can continue hosting events to educate the community about family violence, and to eventually reach a bigger audience.

“One of our main goals is to build up our public profile enough that schools want to have us out to their campuses to present our message to their students,” De Silva says.

“We also hope to continue to hold more forums like this one, and also participate in even more community out reach programs.”

GPAN are inviting young people (16-25 years), who live in Broadmeadows and surrounding suburbs, to get involved.

You can visit their website or Facebook page for more information.


Tijan BinerTijan Biner is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and the Culture & Lifestyle Editor for upstart. You can follow her on Twitter: @tijanb.


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