The Wagga Women’s Health Centre is hopeful council will vote on Monday to partner in its domestic violence reduction initiative.
The ‘DV Project:2650’ program aims to address underlying equity issues that block gender parody and promote family violence in Wagga.
If council votes in its favour, one of the strategies will involve employing a gender equity specialist to oversee council policies and procedures, ensuring there are no whispers of unconscious bias or discrimination.
The program began its life as an intensive research project completed in 2017.
“The survey looked at attitudes towards domestic violence in Wagga,” said Genevieve Fleming, vice president of the Wagga Women’s Health Centre.
“What we know is that Wagga is in the top 25 per cent in the state for domestic violence offences, but what was particularly surprising was that the research found Wagga is extremely conservative around domestic violence.”
Following the report, the Women’s Health Centre received a state government grant of $1,259,075 to be portioned over three years.
Council will act as the auspice of the grant, which will largely fund advertising campaigns promoting awareness.
“In the survey we found people aged 20 to 25 really did subscribe to very traditional stereotypes about the role of men and women, in areas that we know can lead to domestic violence,” said Ms Fleming.
“When you think in this day and age, young people would have done away with those ideas, it’s obviously something we need to create a lot of awareness around.”
Council has already committed the discussion to its confidential meetings, but as of Monday it will become publicly disclosed.
Councillor Rod Kendall is cautious the vote may be dictated by peripheral issues.
“I am certainly supportive. It’s a significant issue and I would expect it will be supported overall by council,” Cr Kendall said.
“Hopefully nobody is influenced by other factors that have no baring on this particularly decision.
“For example, I know the Women’s Health Centre’s [opinion on] abortion is not widely supported, but I would hope that might be put aside in determining this.”
The partnership with council stands to become the largest community strategy of its kind in the country, with only one other similar venture trialled in Victoria.
“Depending on its success, we’re hopeful it will provide a benchmark for the rest of the state to follow, because I think both sides of politics do agree the problem is not getting better so we need to fund new initiatives,” said Ms Fleming.
“I honestly think Wagga is well positioned to lead the way here. If it can be done anywhere, it’s here.”