Around 50 members of the Blue Mountains community gathered at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre on Friday, 25 November to emphatically say ‘No’ to violence against women and children.
The annual Mayoral Breakfast was held on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, with the intention of raising awareness and community consciousness that violence against women and children cannot be tolerated.
Mayor, Councillor Mark Greenhill, said, “Blue Mountains City Council is proud to be supporting this awareness via the Domestic & Family Violence Advisory Committee, which will be chaired by Clr Suzie Van Opdorp. We called for expressions of Interest for members last month and an inaugural meeting will be held shortly.”
It is a distressing fact that violence against women rose 13% during the COVID pandemic, and whilst isolation and anxiety may be among the reasons for this, there is absolutely no excuse for it. Other statistics regarding violence against women in Australia are bleak. In their lifetime:
- 1 in 3 women will experience physical violence
- 1 in 5 women will experience sexual violence
- 1 in 2 women will experience sexual harassment.
The more vulnerable a woman is, the worse the statistics are: young women, elderly women, LGBTQ+ women, refugee women, disabled women and indigenous women experience higher rates of abuse than average.
To date, 40 women have died in Australia in 2022 due to violence. “That’s forty women who should be safe, who should be valued, and who should be alive today,” said the Mayor.
Locally, several initiatives and events are held in the Blue Mountains to counteract this violence including Reclaim the Night, EVIE (Ending Violence Increasing Equity), BRAVE (Bystanders Responding Against Violence Everywhere), MMAV (Mountain Men Against Violence). This year a poster campaign highlighted Coercive Control with posters displayed in Council venues such as Libraries, Leisure Centres and the front counter foyer of Council.
This month, Coercive Control – a known precursor to domestic violence deaths – became an offence in NSW.
“It is it is very gratifying – and humbling – to be a part of a community with people so committed, inspiring and creative in spreading the message that violence against women and domestic violence should no longer be a part of our community.”
The Mayor spoke of simple actions men can take to show their support, “We need to inspire men to take action to help stop violence against women. This starts with respecting women – and never tolerating behaviour, comments or actions that are disrespectful towards women.
“As men, when we see disrespect, we need to call it out. One of the most uncomfortable aspects of being an ally can be confronting and calling out bad behaviour – especially amongst our peers. But it is essential we do it. I know that is a small action against an enormous issue, but it is a positive action that can lead to change – if we all get on board.”
Using the 2022 theme of the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (the UNiTE campaign) as inspiration, ‘UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls’, the Mayor urged men and boys of the Blue Mountains to pledge to be activists in this fight.
“I encourage you all to continue to take part in local events, support the broadcast of these messages, engage with your family, neighbours and colleagues on sexist attitudes and offer support and leadership to change abusive behaviour.”
This Mayoral Breakfast was a partnership event, planned and coordinated by Blue Mountains City Council and the Blue Mountains Coalition Against Violence and Abuse (CAVA).
Photo: The Mayoral Breakfast held on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.