Preventing violence against women through chatting

The 'Let's Chat Gippsland' discussion panel — Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place general manager Shaun Braybrook, Respectful Relationships facilitator Sarah Corbell, Victoria Police Senior Sergeant Mel McLennan and Boisdale-Briagolong Football Netball Club president Ryan Evans. Photo: Josh Farrell

Josh Farrell

A panel discussion, held last Thursday, demonstrated how different community groups were working to prevent violence against women.
The ‘Let’s Chat Gippsland’ panel discussion, facilitated by Wellington Primary Care Partnership, was a part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender-based violence.
The four panellists came from diverse backgrounds, giving a broad understanding of how to prevent violence against women.
Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place general manager Shaun Braybrook helps Indigenous men take pride in their culture to divert themselves from the justice system.
Mr Braybrook follows his grandfather’s line to the Kuku-Yalanji people, and has worked with Indigenous communities for about 28 years.
He was the recipient of the Australian Corrections Medal in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place works with men to help them understand their role within the Aboriginal community, and their role in stopping violence against women.
“The work we do, men are on a journey of change; we invite men in and give them the opportunity to better understand,” Mr Braybrook said.
“We take a holistic approach to help our Aboriginal men right the wrongs of yesterday.
“Back in the day, men and women were equal.
“We have a lot of strong Aboriginal women and a lot of strong Aboriginal men.”
Boisdale-Briagolong Football Netball Club president Ryan Evans is well placed to understand women’s involvement in sport, both as president and in his role with GippSport.
The Bombers have been trailblazers for women’s football in the region, beginning as the only female football team in Wellington Shire, and now generating enough interest to inspire a youth girls’ team.
“As president of the football netball club, we try to be more inclusive,” he said.
“It has taken a long time for the ‘blokey’ culture to change.”
Mr Evans uses knowledge from his role at GippSport to create change within his own football club.
“I have used a lot of that knowledge to improve [the culture] in the club … it is important to choose strategies that make improvements,” he said.
Senior Sergeant Mel McLennan has worked for Victoria Police for 17 years, and wants more women to work in the force.
She understands the importance of attending events such as the panel for better understanding.
“It shows the community that we are aware of their challenges, and shows community groups that we listen,” she said.
Senior Sergeant McLennan believes Victoria Police holds a pivotal role in halting domestic violence.
“For us, it is about supporting victims and holding perpetrators accountable,” she said.
“During COVID, reporting of domestic violence was slightly reduced.”
Ms McLennan said it was unclear exactly why the reporting of domestic violence went down during COVID lockdowns, but believes it was more challenging for victims of domestic violence to access services to report it.
Since COVID lockdowns ended, reporting has now risen to pre-pandemic levels.
Sarah Corbell works for the Department of Education, and is a part of the Respectful Relationships Program, helping children have conversations around respecting women and gender equality.
“We focus on educating both adults and young people,” she said.
“It is better if the students can have these conversations with the teachers that they see every day.
“If we come in, they may not open up to us, so it is better for teachers to lead the conversations.”
The Respectful Relationships Program uses the ‘no, go, tell’ model to teach children about reporting violence against women.
“It teaches them to say no, to go and then to tell someone about it,” she said.
“Children are having really important conversations about it and analysing situations.”
Ms Corbell said the change was obvious in young boys, and it was having a profound influence on them — even in the school yard.
Ms Corbell spoke of young boys who noticed young girls were not kicking the football with them at lunch time, and wanted to find ways to better involve the girls at the school.
Running until this Friday, the ‘Let’s Chat Gippsland’ campaign aims to create a conversation about a world where all women and girls are respected, valued and treated as equals.
Information on other Let’s Chat Gippsland events, including an online event with local author, podcast host and speaker Kerryn Vaughan this Friday from 12.30pm, can be found via the Gippsland Women’s Health Facebook page.