COLAC Otway Shire’s domestic violence figures are unacceptable and attitudes towards women need to change, a council leader says.
Council health and community services manager Greg Fletcher said Victoria Police statistics showed family violence in Colac Otway Shire had increased by 340 per cent in a five-year period to 2013, which was “the highest percentage of change” in Victoria.
“Even though that figure looks pretty ordinary, it reflects a whole host of things,” Mr Fletcher said.
“People are more comfortable in the way police are handling the situation, we are getting more people reporting because they know something can be done,” he said.
“But it certainly doesn’t diminish the fact that the family violence level in Colac Otway in 2013-14 was 32 per cent higher than the Victorian average, so we are still right up there.”
Mr Fletcher is spearheading a long-term campaign to encourage Colac and district businesses to address employment gender equity and sexism.
Mr Fletcher said the campaign aimed to target sexism and change views on gender roles and stereotypes in the community, sporting clubs and workplaces to help stamp out domestic violence.
“Colac Otway Shire, in partnership with other organisations including OBi and Colac Area Health, will be hosting a business leaders’ breakfast on Wednesday,” Mr Fletcher said.
The breakfast is part of White Ribbon Day events to raise awareness about saying ‘no’ to violence against women.
Colac Otway Shire Council workers will kick off White Ribbon week with a Blokes’ Bake-off morning tea for staff, to break gender stereotypes.
“A number of men within the organisation will bake something for others to have, instead of the women in the office preparing all the food, which traditionally has been the case the majority of the time,” Mr Fletcher said.
He said the council hoped to lead the way to change a culture of sexism towards women.
“Sexist comments like ‘playing like a girl’, ‘man up’ and ‘girly man’ – comments like that are still culturally acceptable amongst a large section of community,” Mr Fletcher said.
“Over the next few years we would like to start working with sporting clubs so that the message of gender equity and prevention of violence against women is looked at,” he said.
“It may be that some of the training in future is around, how do you tell a team mate or a colleague that what they have said is a sexist comment and it is a put-down.”