TAMWORTH yesterday played host to the first domestic violence forum for services in the northern region and beyond, coinciding with an international campaign to end gender-based violence.
Hunter New England Health acting manager of violence prevention and care, Kylie Whitford, said the forum – which fell during 16 Days of Activism and came the day after White Ribbon Day – gave representatives from government and non-government service providers the chance to learn the latest information and research regarding domestic violence, as well as hear what other organisations were doing.
The forum covered such topics as working with Aboriginal families and communities, the impact of exposure to domestic violence on children, and elder abuse.
Aboriginal family health co-ordinator Sussan Maybury said some communities in the northern region were reported as having some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the state.
The prevalence of domestic violence in rural and regional areas was generally greater than in cities and was associated with less access to services than metropolitan areas, fewer education and employment opportunities and more lower-income families, Ms Maybury said.
But while there were fewer services available to combat domestic violence, she said service providers in rural and regional areas tended to co-operate more closely.
Ms Maybury said the forum gave services further opportunity to share, which was important because collaboration was recognised to provide better community outcomes.
Kaleidoscope Children’s Health Network Aboriginal family violence worker Phillip Towney gave a presentation regarding an approach to domestic violence that considers the needs of individual communities.
He said it was about “opening the doors and breaking the silence” – boosting awareness of domestic violence and getting people talking about it so action could be taken.
Success relied on the whole community working together and co-operation between both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal services, Mr Towney said.