Stop it At the Start is a national campaign encouraging First Australians to join the conversation and push forward national efforts to dismantle the cycle of violence against women.
In Australia, 25 percent of women have experienced violence from a current and former partner, making violence against women and their children a major issue within the national community.
However, within First Nations communities, these statistics are more concerning. One third of Indigenous women have experienced physical violence from a partner, twice more likely than non-Indigenous women.
In remote and regional communities, Indigenous women experience rates of family violence up to 45 times higher and sexual assault 16-25 times higher than non–Indigenous women.
The new campaign coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women which was on November 25.
Stop it At the Start has developed culturally appropriate resources to support communities in their conversations with youth. Resources include conversations with campaign ambassadors, Jeremey Donovan, Lani Brennan and Leila Gurruwiwi.
Kuku-Yalanji and Gumbaynggirr man, father and cultural mentor, Mr Donovan looks back on his own personal experiences and how he would step forward to ensure he raises his children to create and sustain respectful relationships in their lives.
“For me, unfortunately, a lot of my respectful relationships had [to be] self-taught but have been driven by the motivation [that] I want my children to grow up the most respectful people they possibly can be,” Mr Donovan said.
Mr Donovan said that its particularly important to understand the importance of raising respectful young men.
“If ‘boys will be boys’, then boys should be the ones who are starting to protect the women that are calling out any dysfunction and not turning a blind eye to even as much as derogatory comments towards women let alone escalated comments that turn into arguments that turn into fights,” he said.
“We really have to do everything we possibly can to eradicate any of those behaviours and ensure that women are celebrated, and there is nothing done to take women down in terms of making them feel vulnerable and unsafe within community. There is never an okay excuse for disrespecting women.”
Leila Gurruwiwi, Indigenous Support Worker and TV Host, said there needs to be a deeper understanding of the language around violence.
“When I hear people say, ‘He just did it because he likes you’, I think, ‘If he loved and respected you, he wouldn’t hurt you – whether that’s emotionally, physically [or] spiritually,” Ms Gurruwiwi said.
Nyawaygi woman, domestic violence survivor and mother of six, Lani Brennan said within her home, there is no tolerance of violent behaviour.
“I believe that my kids see it within my home, they believe that it is normal behaviour. I started from a young age, I believe prevention is the key, instead of intervention,” Ms Brennan said.
Stop it At the Start wants community to understand that every member of the community plays a role in breaking the cycle of violence against women, not only by starting conversations with young people around respectful relationships and gender equality but also by reflecting on their own attitudes and actions.
The Stop it at the Start campaign is an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au
Visit respect.gov.au for more information and to download free resources.
By Rachael Knowles