Dr Andreia Schineanu from CSU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences believes male role models are the key to shifting community attitudes, and it starts at a local level and in the home.
“The White Ribbon campaign was initiated by men and it remains Australia’s only national, male led campaign to end violence against women,” Dr Schineanu said.
“Most domestic violence is perpetrated by men so it is up to men to end it. Violence starts in the home and it must end in the home too – men must lead by example and treat their partner, mother, sisters and daughters with respect.”
Dr Schineanu believes local voices can be just as effective in changing community attitudes as celebrities.
“White Ribbon Day has some wonderful celebrity ambassadors but men in normal towns, living everyday lives can help change community beliefs towards violence,” Dr Schineanu said.
“Speaking up against violence in your own community can have a powerful effect to change the attitudes and social norms that support and perpetuate abuse, and can be more powerful than celebrity endorsement.”
Dr Schineanu is encouraging men to reflect on their own behaviours and attitudes and whether these perpetuate and support sexism and violence. She suggests some actions that individual men can take include confronting sexist jokes and comments, and refusing to buy or watch material that portrays women in a sexually degrading or violent manner.
According to Dr Schineanu, violence against women is more prevalent than people realise.
“Often we only hear about domestic violence in the news and often it is the most severe cases, such as homicide, so we can feel distanced from it,” Dr Schineanu said.
“We think that it is something that will never happen to us and only happens to other people but one in three Australian women have experienced some form of violence since the age of 15.
“Men need to understand how inequality between men and women still exists and how this impacts on women and children, they need to be empowered to talk about how prevalent domestic violence is and why it is not ok. Men of all ages should be applauded for supporting White Ribbon Day – they are the voices who will change community values and lead a new generation of men committed to ending this epidemic.”
Dr Schineanu is currently working with the Wagga Wagga Women’s Health Centre and project partners Army Recruit Training Centre, Kapooka and Rotary Club of Wollundry on a research project that will assess the characteristics of and community attitudes to domestic violence in Wagga Wagga and develop interventions to address them.
“The data we have at the moment comes from BOCSAR and is based on reported cases only” Dr Schineanu said.
“Most cases of domestic violence go unreported so in order to ensure we have the correct support services where they are needed, we must first get a more accurate understanding of the issue in Wagga Wagga.”
Media contact: Hannah Guilfoyle, 0417 125 795
Dr Schineanu is based in Wagga Wagga and is available for media interviews before and on White Ribbon Day. Contact CSU Media for more information.