Giving people the tools to assist friends and loved ones stop domestic and family violence is the driving force behind a new initiative being launched tomorrow by the University of Newcastle's Family Action Centre.
The initiative uses four newly developed resources which provide more than 70 ways of assisting people experiencing domestic violence and to help stop the violence continuing. Dr Graeme Stuart from the Family Action Centre said the theme of the new program was 'we all make a difference'.
"If we become aware of domestic and family violence and do nothing or ignore it, we are allowing the violence to continue and people will remain in an unsafe environment," Dr Stuart said.
"Friends, family, neighbours and workmates often know or suspect that domestic violence is occurring but typically are unsure what to do about it. Our resources provide straightforward advice that will help people support those experiencing domestic violence and help make a difference to their lives."
Dr Stuart said there were four key things people should do when they become aware a family member or friend has experienced domestic violence.
"First, take the abuse seriously and be there for them. Ensure they know they are not alone and help them make decisions about how to address the issue," Dr Stuart said. "Lend a hand by providing practical and emotional support. For example you can help them phone domestic violence help lines or give them a place to stay."
"Children can be the hidden victims of domestic or family violence, so it is also important to ensure they are safe. Children should also be reassured that it is not their fault and be given the opportunity to talk about their experiences."
"Finally, people who are assisting someone affected by domestic violence should consider their own safety and ensure they are not themselves at risk of harm."
The resources, including posters, a pocket-sized reference card and a keyring, were developed following consultations with survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence, service providers, and family and friends of people who have experienced violent relationships. The initiative was funded through the Australian Government Office of Women's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Initiative.
The resources are being launched as part of the White Ribbon Breakfast at Western Suburbs Leagues Club tomorrow morning, Friday 23 November, at 7am.
The launch coincides with White Ribbon Day, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, this coming Sunday.
For support, people can call Violence Against Women. Australia says NO on 1800 200 526.