Lavender Foundation, a Melbourne based community organisation, recently started an awareness campaign about family violence against men. The campaign was supported by a number of community organisations, such as Forum for Indian Australians, Melbourne Service Club, Let’s Feed, Ramon Helps and Women of Wyndham and South Asian Community Link Group.
Family violence against men is an issue that hasn’t received much attention in recent times and the general consensus of the team involved was that it gets swept under the carpet, especially in the Subcontinent community. The awareness campaign culminated at a lunch hosted by the involved organisations at 5 Seasons Resort in Point Cook on 7th October. A reasonable turnout of people, with a strong conviction to support, from various walks of life was witnessed at the event.
The content presented at the event was well received by the attendees. The key presenters covered various aspects of the topic. Dr Ritesh Chugh (Senior Lecturer, CQUniversity) outlined a description of this social stigma and spoke about the importance of this campaign. Ripan Sethi (President, Melbourne Service Club) shared some alarming statistics around male family violence. He convinced the audience that “the issue is bigger than what we think.” Priya Bedi (President, Lavender Foundation) who was the key driver behind the campaign acknowledged the support she had received from other organisations. Priya Bedi opined that “Men too are victims of family violence and have equal rights for justice.” Monica Raizada (Founder, Women of Wyndham) highlighted how the community could help in supporting victims. She reminded everyone of the importance of “connecting people, upholding values and supporting the movement.” Dr Sonia Cheema (Vice President, South Asian Community Link Group) described the role of education in preventing family violence in the first instance. She said “I touch the future.. I teach” and it is important that an awareness of this issue is created. Dharindar Sohal (Social Worker and a law student) described the impact of words on a relationship and how important it is to choose words carefully. He said “silence doesn’t solve any problems, it only adds more.” Rakesh Raizada (Founder, Ramon Helps) shared details about where and what help is available to support victims.
Towards the end of the event, some of the real life victims shared their personal anecdotes on the trauma they had to experience, with limited support available to them. Dr Chugh called for ending the misconceptions surrounding male family violence through advocacy and talking about it. Men should also be able to ask for help without being ridiculed. Finally, it is important to support each other and support shouldn’t be gender-specific, if suffering isn’t!