St Mary’s Primary School, pictured, has joined Lancefield Primary School in being the latest to make a pledge to be proactive in the prevention of family violence and the promotion of respectful and positive relationships, as part of the Lancefield Romsey Stand Together campaign.

THE Lancefield Romsey Stand Together campaign will provide a tangible, grassroots initiative encompassing the community, as part the 16 Days of Activism campaign in the Macedon Ranges.

Two primary schools, Lancefield Primary School and St Mary’s Primary School, are the latest to make a pledge to be proactive in the prevention of family violence and the promotion of respectful and positive relationships.

To mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, from November 25 to December 10, and as part of the Lancefield Romsey Stand Together Campaign, teachers at Lancefield Primary and St Mary’s Primary Schools are taking a stand by sharing a photo of themselves in front of a banner stating their pledge.

To launch Macedon Ranges’ 16 Days of Activism campaign, Central Victorian Primary Care Partnership will host a family violence vigil and ‘Break the Chain’ dance on the grasslands of Kyneton Mechanics Institute at 1.45pm on Wednesday.

Cobaw chief executive Margaret McDonald said the stand together campaign was initiated by a group of residents participating in a community wellbeing project facilitated by Swinburne University and supported by Cobaw Community Health.

“As we reflect on how COVID has impacted lives it is important to understand that family violence incidents have increased in the last year and we continue to support any activity that results in the reduction of family violence that endangers the lives of women and children,” she said.

Lancefield Primary School principal Jo Edmond said students learnt about gender equality through the school’s participation in the Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships program, designed to support students’ social, emotional and positive relationship skills.

“We lead by example, working together in a considerate manner using respectful language and behaviours,” she said.

St Mary’s Primary School principal Julie McDougall said preventing family violence was a shared  responsibility where the community needed to be united.

“The school community is often the first place many families turn to during a time of need. We strive to live by our school’s anti-bullying message – we extend our hand and united take a stand,” she said.

All community members are invited to participate by taking a photo of themselves holding a sign showing what they will do when it comes to promoting a more equal society free from violence.

At the conclusion of the campaign, the photos will be publicly displayed in both Romsey and Lancefield, published in a local newspaper and on social media. To submit your photo, email lauren.tyrrell@cobaw.org.au.

Statistics show that one in four women have experienced violence by an intimate partner since the age of 15, compared to one in 13 men.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council people, culture and performance interim executive manager Sarah Noel said this was a time to actively promote gender equality and take a stand to end men’s violence against women.

“We will be running a social media campaign to reflect on this year’s theme: ‘Respect is…’”

“Residents are encouraged to follow our Facebook and Instagram pages, engage in active conversations with their friends and loved ones, and share our 16 Days posts within their own social media networks,” she said.

People experiencing or at risk of experiencing violence can access help 24/7 by calling Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 or by visiting safesteps.org.au.

People worried their behaviour might harm a partner or family members, can call the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 to speak to a specialist counsellor.