Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Campaign launched to improve conversations about family violence

The Courageous Conversations campaign was launched in Benalla last week in an effort to reduce violence against women.

LIBBY PRICE September 4, 2014 3:15am

The launch of Courageous Conversations, where individuals, workplaces and clubs are encouraged to join in the conversation on preventing violence against women.

For violence against women to stop, men must talk to men about the issue, because violent men won’t listen to women.

That was just one of the confronting messages from Deakin University’s Chair of Social Work, Professor Bob Pease at the the Courageous Conversations campaign launch held by Women’s Health Goulburn North East in Benalla last week.

The campaign aims to encourage individuals, workplaces and clubs to talk about preventing violence against women.

Prof Pease challenged the men at the launch to take the lead.

‘‘We need to start talking about violence against women as a men’s issue. Most men say, ‘I’m not violent against my wife or women. It’s a women’s issue.’ The current language obscures the issue,’’ Prof Pease said.

‘‘We’re reluctant to be up-front in naming it as an issue for men for fear of the backlash, of people saying ‘this is just male bashing, we’re not all violent, women are violent too’.

‘‘Men need to ask themselves, ‘Have I pressured a women to have sex, have I exploited women in relationships or perhaps been complicit?’. It’s confronting ... an emotionally distressing experience. Men have to feel a level of distress for things to change.’’

The Benalla Saints Sports Club has been in partnership with WHGNE since the start of this sporting season and all player uniforms now carry the Courageous Conversations logo to promote discussion about domestic violence. The club has also had its own discussion sessions to educate players about what they can do to prevent violence against women.

Benalla senior football coach Luke Morgan was shocked by the level of domestic violence when he moved to Benalla. He believed even changing the club’s name has helped.

‘‘When we went from the Demons to the Saints I firmly believe it changed the roles and contributions of women. We’re striving to give as much back to the community.’’

A recent study titled It’s Against All the Rules found 91 per cent of men aged 21 to 29 years would not talk to their peers about violence against women.

‘‘The vast majority of domestic violence is men against women. We’re facing the paradox that over the last 20 years there’s been a dramatic increase in awareness campaigns, yet the violence continues — in many cases — to escalate,’’ Prof Pease said.

There is also evidence suggesting that in a more gender equal society men live longer.

‘‘Violent, controlling, coercive men are more prone to heart attacks. By being in more connected relationships with women, men live longer,’’ Prof Pease said.

‘‘Even the sustainability of the planet is at stake. It’s not a surprise the vast majority of climate deniers are white, straight men who want to maintain the patriarchy.’’

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