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Tuesday, 01 March 2016 09:12

Confronting family violence: A challenge for the Church to make a difference

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FamilyViolenceForum2016"We are moving closer to almost two women who die due to family violence each week in Australia," said Good Samaritan Sister Michelle Reid who joined Paul Linossier, Chief Executive of Wesley Mission and other panellists at a public forum addressing family violence during the ‘Review, Reimagine, Renew’ mission conference.

The issue of family violence cannot be relegated to just another social justice issue that we need to pay attention to, Paul Linossier, Chief Executive of Wesley Mission, told church leaders at a public forum addressing family violence on Wednesday 24 February.

"We are talking about men’s violence against women, physical and sexual violence. We are talking about the litany of controlling behaviours that exclude and denigrate and over time demoralise, abuse and marginalise women.

Family violence is a factor in most cultures on our globe but it is clearly present and strong in Australian culture."

Gathered at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Linossier told the leaders that this is "an uncomfortable conversation if it goes far enough because it drives to the heart of our culture, the heart of our social arrangements and our view of the human person."

"There is one over riding precondition that allows men’s violence towards women to occur and it is gender inequality. There is a pervading bias towards men.

Men represent 60 per cent of the global workforce and they represent 95 per cent of the CEOs in the worlds largest corporations. Women represent only 29 per cent of board members in those organisations and 27 per cent or less of the senior leadership teams in those organisations. There is a global and occupational discrimination, gender-based, agenda happening.

The good news is that men’s violence against women is preventable."

Linossier is a former CEO of Our Watch; an organisation set up to drive change against the culture, behaviours and attitudes that underpin and create violence against women and children. He showed a video, published by Our Watch at the end of 2015, called Let’s change the story. The clip focuses on reducing the gendered drivers of violence against women.

Sr Michelle Reid sgs, Manager at the Good Samaritan Inn, said the current family violence statistics are shocking. ‘We are moving closer to almost two women who die due to family violence each week in Australia.’

"It’s important to note, the abusers are not strangers but generally an intimate partner.

Gender inequality is at the basis of this social epidemic. It includes structural and institutional inequality. It begins with the individual. How I am formed in my beliefs, expectations and understandings about how I should be treated as a woman, a child or a man," Sr Reid explained.

"Communities attitudes and behaviours must change. That’s a huge challenge."

The Good Samaritan Inn provides crisis accommodation for women who are victims of domestic violence. Four years ago, the centre decided to enter the field of prevention against such violence.

Commencing the "We can do it", respectful relationships project, in three high schools over a three-year period, the project brought about change in students from awareness and understanding to a change in behaviours and attitudes about family violence.

"We worked with the schools to achieve cultural change," Sr Reid said.

A report and two videos about the "We can do it" project findings will be available as part of the mission conference papers.

This is an extract from an article from ACBC Communications which you can read in full at the website of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.