Southern Highlands domestic violence forum sends banner of support to victims of domestic and family violence
The message was clear on the Old Illawarra Road: domestic and family violence in the Southern Highlands will not be tolerated.
The Southern Highlands domestic violence forum are taking this message on the road, travelling throughout the region with a banner to be displayed in public places to raise awareness.
Moss Vale High School was the first stop and school captain Jemi Huggett said the message was one that hit close to home. "I'm a survivor of domestic violence. I think it's really important to bring the topic out into the open because silence only continues the problem," she said.
White Ribbon ambassador Garry Ponder said he was first confronted with the pervasive reality of domestic and family violence in the community through his work as a police officer. "I grew up in an environment where violence towards women was just unimaginable. My work with the police force exposed me to it and it angered me," Mr Ponder said.
"I hate the fact that women who experience domestic violence are the ones that have to leave the house, they're the ones that are financially disadvantaged. Family violence is the biggest cause of homelessness for women and children," he said.
Barnardos family referral service team leader Erin Nichols said that while there are many support services available in the Highlands, domestic and family violence is one area where gaps in available support still exist. "The perception is that we're a high socio-economic area, but the fact is that the stats don't tend to reflect reality because domestic violence tends to be underreported in small, close knit communities," Ms Nichols said.
"We're aware of a lot of families who are experiencing domestic violence but aren't in a position where they feel they can report it," she said.
If you would like the 'Say NO to family violence' banner to visit your community, contact Senior Constable Simone Houghton firstname.lastname@example.org. You can contact the Domestic Violence helpline 24 hours a day on 1800 65 64 63.
(This article first appeared in the Southern Highland News and was written by Olivia Ralph).