Ending family violence no simple task

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Mid West-Gascoyne Superintendent Roger Beer, Geraldton Community Branch of Bendigo Bank Assistant Branch Manager Kelly Eastough and City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn sign the Community, Respect and Equality Agreement during the launch.
Camera IconMid West-Gascoyne Superintendent Roger Beer, Geraldton Community Branch of Bendigo Bank Assistant Branch Manager Kelly Eastough and City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn sign the Community, Respect and Equality Agreement during the launch. Credit: Francesca Mann

Putting an end to family violence is not as simple as pouring money into support services; Mid West-Gascoyne Superintendent Roger Beer says it requires a significant change in the way people think.

Last week, Supt Beer officially launched the Community, Respect and Equality Agreement, which invites organisations to actively help prevent family violence by addressing and eliminating the attitudes that support it.

During his speech Supt Beer said over the last weekend in March police responded to 95 incidents in the Mid West-Gascoyne — 45 of which were family violence-related.

And with the number of incidents increasing each year, Supt Beer said it was time for the community to step up and make a difference.

“As police we’re often first on the scene and it’s heartbreaking to see the fear on a child’s face,” he said.

“The only thing worse is to see a child among all the turmoil, sitting there watching TV like nothing happened because it’s become their reality and norm.

“We have to reduce the tolerance to violence in the future generations, and a culture of not accepting violence drives harm reduction.

“Cultural change is a conscious effort by all; we have to come together and support changing these attitudes.”

More than 50 representatives from Geraldton-based businesses and organisations attended the launch, with many signing the agreement on the day.

Desert Blue Connect chief executive Russell Pratt said the agreement was not just about raising awareness.

Those signing are encouraged to be actively engaged in preventing family violence.

“It’s important we take these conversations away from this room,” Mr Pratt said.

“I hope the leaders here will do whatever their organisation can do to take the message that violence is never OK into the broader community.”

The Mid West Ports Authority was one of the first workplaces to sign the agreement.

General manager Vickie Williams said it was a no-brainer.

“We do have a role to play in addressing social issues and we can change the story,” she said.

“We can make family violence a community conservation and make it OK to speak up.”

The agreement was developed by Desert Blue Connect in collaboration with the community and a reference group.

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