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Family violence prevention to feature at Beveridge forum

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Northern Community Legal Centre, NCLC, will host a community forum on June 9 to address challenges and opportunities to prevent and respond to family violence in Mitchell Shire.

The forum, at Greater Beveridge Community Centre from 12.30pm until 2.30pm, will be preceded by a light lunch with formal proceedings commencing at 1pm.

NCLC partnerships and community development manager Tania McKenna said women and service providers from across the region would participate in conversations about family violence.

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“For service providers this forum is an opportunity to hear from community members about their lived experiences, and how service providers can best respond to their needs,” she said.

“We know that many women experience a range of barriers to seeking help, and service providers need to understand more about those barriers so that we can implement innovative stratifies that are responsive to local needs.”

Participants are peer educators participating in NCLC’s Take the First Step project, funded in Mitchell Shire by the Victorian Law Foundation, with the program to conclude in June 2023.

The Take the First Step project provides a grassroots response to family violence by encouraging women to create a network of support, using community-led engagement strategies.

The forum provides an opportunity for the Take the First Step peer educators to use their cultural and community expertise to inform and strengthen prevention initiatives.

The NCLC recognised that women on temporary visas are a section of the community who are extremely vulnerable to family violence due to their uncertain migration status.

The NCLC found in 2019, among other types of family violence, that 93 per cent of Indian woman on temporary visa experienced physical violence, 56 per cent sexual violence, 50 per cent forced servitude, and 28 per cent attempted strangulation.

“We are aware that many newly-arrived women to Australia are isolated, have limited English language skills and are unaware of Australian laws and programs,” Ms McKenna said.

“Reaching these women is a challenge, and we know that often their first point of contact in the community will be with other women of the same cultural background.

“It was in response to this need that our peer education was born. The project recognises the important role that women with cultural and local community expertise play in informing our own programs, and the potential for these women to utilise their own community networks to share accurate and important information on pathways to safety for newly arrived women.”

The forum recognises that Mitchell Shire has some of the highest rates of family violence incidents and child protection reports in Victoria, with many families experiencing isolation as infrastructure fails to keep up with population growth.

In 2022 the family incident rate per 100,000 population for Mitchell was 2014 compared with the average Victorian rate of 1400.

The forum will feature a panel of representatives fromservice providers including NCLC, Nexus Primary Health, Family Care, police, maternal child health, and peer educators Shanthi and Rem.

Panellists will be asked questions by the MC, followed by questions from the audience.  

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