Our Watch Our Issue

Some of the Our Watch Our Issue working group members. Photo: Carolyn Turner

Late in 2014 the Baw Baw Shire Council facilitated a meeting of groups and individuals interested in forming a working group to take on the issue of family violence in the Shire. This followed concerns about the escalation of men’s violence against women.  Over the past 4 years in the Baw Baw Police Service Area the number of reported family violence incidents has more than doubled from 300 to over 700 per year.

A wide range of groups and organisations were represented at that meeting and as a result ‘Our Watch Our Issue’ was formed.

Representatives gathering for monthly meetings include Warragul Police, Quantum Support Services, Baw Baw Shire Council, Warragul Community House, Gippsland Women’s Health, GippSport, Warragul Gazette, Warragul Community Church, Wakefield, Vogrig and Boote Lawyers, West Gippsland Regional Library Service, Olivia’s Place, GCASA and several community members.  Meetings involve discussing and formulating actions around the issue of men’s violence against women.

The group has organised public and school showings of the movie The Mask You Live In which presents the simple message that narrow definitions of masculinity, repressed emotions and popular gender stereotypes are harming boys and men and unveils what can be done about it.

In November 2016, with the support of Warragul Rotary Club, a White Ribbon Day barbecue was held in Civic Park.  The message presented at the event was that it is possible to turn the stigma of family violence around, encouraging victims to break the cycle and raise awareness about family violence in the community.  In recent times there has been a slight reduction in the number of reported family violence incidents to police. More importantly, the rate of recidivism among perpetrators of family violence is at an all time low in Baw Baw,  largely due to the positive initial action by local police in the intervention process and the referral support available for victims of family violence from agencies who are chartered to provide counselling and support.

Activities for  the year ahead are being finalised. For more information or to get involved, contact Elizabeth Willems, Baw Baw Shire Council on PH: 5624 2411 or bawbaw@bawbawshire.vic.gov.au

To stay up to date with the health and well being conversation, like and follow ‘Being Healthy In Baw Baw’ Facebook page.

Article contributed by Our Watch Our Issue.

If you are experiencing family violence or have experienced sexual assault, seek support, contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).  In an emergency call the Police on 000.