New family violence prevention program launched

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Stronger Healthier Indian Families Together – targets Indian community as members face isolation and limited service support

A new project to help Melbourne’s Indian community tackle family violence has been launched. Funded by Our Watch and implemented by Cohealth in partnership with the Jagriti Forum, Stronger Healthier Indian Families Together (SHIFT) will pilot new family violence prevention approaches with Indian men and women living in Wyndham and Brimbank.

The Indian community was selected from a number of established culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities that face isolation and limited service support. “We have also seen an increase court appears for family violence matters in this community,” Cohealth Project Lead Alice Henderson said.

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“Importantly, the community has decided to stand up, take action and respond to violence against women and children. The Brimbank-Wyndham Indian community has demonstrated a strong readiness to help develop and participate in prevention efforts and Cohealth is working to support these community-led activities get underway”, Ms. Henderson commented.

“We want to assist people to develop appropriate prevention activities, and where a process works, take those lessons to other communities facing the same problems,” she said.

“Community is central to this project and are being meaningfully engaged with at all stages.”

The 12-month pilot project is working closely with the Jagriti Forum. The Jagriti Forum is committed to supporting the Indian community through developing prevention and intervention strategies and acting as a coordination body for agencies and the community to increase awareness of family violence,” she said.

“SHIFT is targeting prevention and we can only truly prevent family violence if the community is committed to change,” commented Jagriti and SHIFT Working Group Chair, Marsha Thomson (Footscray MP).

Project content and direction are being driven by participatory consultation with a wide range of Indian community members and family violence and other relevant services and through the establishment of, and regular meetings with, a project working group. This small working group is made up of a representative from Women’s Health West, Sunshine Magistrates Court, representatives from Cohealth and representatives from a range of groups within the Indian community. The working group recently attended an education session to further familiarize them with the concepts of primary prevention, the gendered nature of violence against women and gender inequality.

SHIFT will build the capacity of Indian community leaders, faith leaders and community members to plan, conduct and implement family violence primary prevention activities in their community. Activities aim to challenge beliefs, behaviours and attitudes that lead to violence against women and children, and in this way stop family violence before it starts. The development and implementation of activities will be informed and led by the Indian community by drawing on community knowledge, leadership and strengths and through tailoring evidence-based and best-practice prevention initiatives so that they are context and community specific.

This project is a pilot and will provide a model for primary prevention of family violence for other established CALD groups and inform other state and national efforts to prevent family violence.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000

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