Police call for cultural leaders to unite against domestic violence

CHANGING MINDS: Blacktown Police multicultural community liaison officer Assefa Bekele sees domestic violence as a key part of his role. Picture: Simon Bennett

CHANGING MINDS: Blacktown Police multicultural community liaison officer Assefa Bekele sees domestic violence as a key part of his role. Picture: Simon Bennett

Blacktown men from all different cultures are banding together to make a stand against family violence.

Now in its second year, ‘Blacktown Is United Against Domestic Violence’ saw scores of men take to the steps of Max Webber Library on White Ribbon Day.

The campaign has brought together eight organisations so far including Blacktown Council and SydWest Multicultural Services.

Blacktown Police multicultural community liaison officer Assefa Bekele said the aim is to engage with people from all around the world.

Mr Bekele, himself an Ethiopian migrant, said Australia has more progressive values toward women than many other countries. He believes it is the role of men and community leaders to step up and speak out against harmful attitudes and behaviour.

“Religious leaders have much opportunity to teach people. Young ones, women, men; every week they all listen to the people of God,” he said.

Members of ‘Blacktown Is United Against Domestic Violence’ at Max Webber Library on White Ribbon Day in November 2017. Picture: Supplied

Members of ‘Blacktown Is United Against Domestic Violence’ at Max Webber Library on White Ribbon Day in November 2017. Picture: Supplied

Mr Bekele has been working for more than a decade with Blacktown Police domestic violence liaison officer Michelle Goble.

The colleagues agree attitudes have changed, and it is becoming easier to speak openly about the issue.

Senior Constable Goble also said resources were better than ever for the local area command – Blacktown now has six officers dedicated to domestic violence.

Another key initiative is the introduction of safety action meetings, where services and stakeholders identify victims at serious threat.

“Where it was disjointed before, now all the agencies are coming together and sharing information to do the best that we can for both female and male victims,” Senior Constable Goble said.

“We’re then impacting the children that are in the homes.”

The officers also work with other community groups to reform offenders and repair damaged families.

Relationships Australia Blacktown manager June Brooks identified behavioural change as one area in desperate need of more resources. She said the Blacktown centre has been rejected four times for funding to run a program with proven success in similar regions, including Penrith and Parramatta.

“That’s the sort of program that we’d love to bring into Blacktown to help support change,” Ms Brooks said.

“What we need is domestic violence to stop, and no more deaths.”

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