We men must lead the call in our community that Enough is Enough

Published in The Courier, 27 April 2024

This week over 80 leaders from our regional community, mostly men, gathered to hear from Women’s Health Grampians about an initiative designed for men to build our capacity to identify and call out gender inequality, sexism and discrimination.

The incidence of violence against women in Australia is a national tragedy. The horrific and tragic deaths of Samantha Murphy, Rebecca Young and Hannah McGuire in recent months has placed the impact of gendered violence very much at our own doorstep and it is distressing.

Many of us now hear the stories of women and girls in our community, currently going about their daily routines with trepidation. Early morning walks and runs, leaving or going to work in the dark, answering an unexpected knock at the front door, a combination of little things that should not cause women to have a second thought in a community where they feel safe, now linger in the minds of many.

It is appalling that gendered violence continues to take the lives of so many Australian women and it is appalling that so many more endure discrimination, inequality, oppression, abuse, trauma and violence every day, often unbeknownst to most.

Violence against women is preventable. We understand many of the behaviours and cultural practices that can perpetuate and result in violent acts against women, at the hands of men.

This is not OK and its men who need to lead change.

Leadership matters and we men must lead the call in our community that Enough is Enough.

This is not a heroic or altruistic call, rather it simply acknowledges the unhealthy traits of masculinity lie at the heart of the problem and it is men who must take responsibility for change.

The 140 plus members of Committee for Ballarat come from our region’s largest and smallest businesses, community groups and not for profit sectors. Our membership represents the large proportion of our regional economy and we are united by a vision for a liveable and prosperous region. We work collaboratively with government and other key decision makers to help shape a thriving and vibrant regional community.

Such a community can only exist where all people feel safe and respected and have equality of opportunity. Women in our community, right now, quite rightly have every reason to not feel safe, respected or equal.

As tragic as the past few months in our region has been, lets build on the sadness, grief, anxiety and anger many in our community are currently feeling and use this to drive change.

Women’s Health Grampians as part of their CORE Alliance will deliver the Men’s Initiative to build strong allies and advocates in the community to help stamp out gendered violence. It is an innovative and evidence-based model that challenges men to be proactively in working to defy the social, structural and systematic forces that lead to discrimination and inequality that lie at the core of violence against women.

It’s about men talking to men, but we do need the skills to be able to do this effectively and it should not be assumed that we all equipped with such skills.

They can be taught and learned and absolutely need to be practiced.

It’s men talking in our homes with our families, in our work places, in our sports clubs, in the varied institutions we are part of and in the places where we men hang-out.

As our federal member Catherine King so eloquently put it, “How we educate our boys in this community matters, what opportunities they have to learn how to be the fabulous, beautiful men we all know in some aspects of our lives matters”.

As men, as leaders, as a community we all need to step up and ensure all people are safe, respected and have equal opportunity. This must start with the most basic of all human needs, safety – safety for women. Women’s Health Grampians are just one of the many agencies working to deliver change.

They all need our help and to be part of change and turn the tide we must stand collectively to address the issues that lead to violence against women, at all levels.

We should never lose sight of hope and hope begins with a realisation that the current view of the world is not the best view of the world. Let us work together to build a community where all feel safe, respected and equal.