Coming together to tackle family violence

By John Lewis

A day for ethnic communities to bring family violence issues out in the open is to be held in Shepparton next week.

The Goulburn Valley African-Australian Community Organisation plans to bring together experts, service providers, families and individuals to discuss the sensitive issue of domestic violence in a one-day empowerment program.

Goulburn Valley Health forensic mental health specialist and empowerment day co-organiser Charles Oguntade said it was a public discussion that was long overdue within ethnic communities.

“I don't think it's been addressed enough, even though there has been a huge government and community campaign against family and domestic abuse. I think we have an opportunity to go further and address the issue in a very specific way,” Mr Oguntade said.

He said speakers on the day would aim to present the issues in language that would resonate with a multicultural audience.

“We will be trying to take out the jargon and address the issues in a way that is culturally appropriate,” he said.

Nigerian-born Mr Oguntade said family violence was not often recognised in African communities.

“For instance, my mum in my village — if you ask her has she experienced family violence, she will probably tell you no — because her husband has never struck her across the face.

“But violence goes beyond somebody physically attacking someone. It might be psychological or emotional or even financial — and that should be unpacked and addressed in clear, plain language,” Mr Oguntade said.

He said speakers on the day would include social worker and counsellor Kadijat Gbla from Adelaide and family violence psychologist Summaryah Ojibara from Melbourne.

Representatives of service providers such as police, DHSS, the courts, child protection and CatholicCare will also be attending.

Even though the free event is targeted at ethnic communities, Mr Oguntade said anyone from the wider community was welcome to attend.

The Family and Domestic Abuse Empowerment Day will be held at St Paul's African House, 54 Poplar Ave, Shepparton from 10.30am to 3pm on Wednesday, November 13.

For more information phone Thon on 0403 662 050 or Omeni on 0406 884 388.

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