Crime prevention program sows seeds of hope in the Mallee

24 February 2011

Crime prevention program sows seeds of hope in the Mallee
A program to inform communities about the impacts of family violence is having positive effects in
the Mallee region of North West Victoria.
“Through raised awareness about family violence and its impacts, an emergency accommodation
arrangement has been instigated in Ouyen, community response is more sensitive and appropriate,
and women have been encouraged to make positive changes to their situations,” says Gwen Cooke,
team leader of Women’s Health Loddon-Mallee. Gwen will deliver her paper Sowing the seeds of
hope at the National Rural Health Conference in Perth next month.
The project, which involved 37 community-based activities targeting schools, women and attitudinal
change approaches for men, has reduced community tolerance of violent episodes and increased
the capacity to respond appropriately whenever they occur.
“Working on sensitive subjects in rural and remote communities creates particular challenges for
activities that encourage participation and open contribution. Therefore a diverse range of sensitive
and innovative activities and communication processes was used, building on existing networks and
activities to reach a broad range of people.”
Ms Cooke said the beneficial ripple effect from workshops and programs has given people a better
appreciation that violence is real, still present in the community and can happen to anyone.
“Adolescents and children have gained a better knowledge and understanding of what sexual
assault is and that it is unacceptable. Greater understanding and new knowledge of the supports
available has helped women find the strength to take the steps needed.”
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