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EDITORIAL: Leadership is needed

The media has an incredible responsibility when reporting about family violence.

The way it presents stories, the words written to describe the situation and the accompanying pictures can have a deep impact on the audience.

For the past three editions, The Weekly Advertiser has included stories on family violence-related issues and events.

When considering whether to cover it again in this week’s editorial, the issue of media saturation and whether people are ‘tuning out’ due to the unprecedented level of media coverage across the nation in the past month was a factor.

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But conversations and incidents in my personal and professional life in the past week have again reminded me how important it is to keep family violence at the front of people’s minds.

And it’s not just the actual physical acts of violence that need addressing. It’s thinking on a deeper level where the poor level of treatment starts, and the need for everybody in society to play a role in trying to change the poor attitudes and responses to what is now an epidemic.

Family violence can be physical, sexual violence or abuse; emotional or psychological abuse; economic abuse; threatening behaviour; coercion, controlling or dominating a family member that causes them to feel fear for the safety of themselves or another family member; or causes a child to hear, witness or be exposed to the above behaviours. 

While physical violence has dominated the nation’s media in the past month, it is the other behaviours listed above that is where it often starts.

Assault, threats to harm, confining a person against their will, damaging another person’s property, or stalking or harming a person’s pets fall under the family violence umbrella.

But it can also start with simply how you speak to women and the attitudes and opinions one has towards the topic.

When discussing family violence, responses such as ‘but it happens to men too’, represent a dismissal of the core facts that statistically the overwhelming proportion of victims are women.

Yes it is unacceptable for anyone to be the victim of family violence – but if the default response is to immediately raise that men can be victims too, are people fully listening and comprehending the core of the issue?

It also doesn’t help when metropolitan media leads with the fact that AFL footballers attended the funeral of Clunes woman Hannah McGuire, who was allegedly murdered by a former partner.

Let’s be clear. It is not all men who perpetrate family violence. 

Most men never commit any form of family violence.

Women maintaining the rage is not working. 

It is time for all men and women to call people out, take a stand and display the right, respectful way to treat girls and women. Show leadership, take action and make a difference.

The entire May 15, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!