The November weekend prior to White Ribbon Day (25 November 2015), the Indian community in Sydney came together with pride, showing support/contributions on domestic violence issues.
The Hindu Council of Australia (HCA) hosted a “Strengthening Relationships” forum and the next day, the United Indian Associations (UIA) hosted a White Ribbon Event.
The Hindu Council’s “Strengthening Relationships” forum was very well organised, presented and received by audience, presenting many people from various organisations, backgrounds and walks of life. The “Strengthening Relationships” forum had a great line up of panel speakers, including Human Rights/Immigration Lawyer Pallavi Sinha, Senior constable David Kalson from the New South Wales Police, Dr Sundhar from the Sydney Indian community and Immigration Lawyer Kalasa Chakra.
Pallavi Sinha opened the forum well, with passionate words “Strike a person, you strike yourself”, describing how the domestic violence perpetrator attacks someone close to them, who ends up attacking themselves in the process. Describing Namaste, she said that the gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.
Speaking on the sad Australia statistic for 2015, she said , “Two women die each week in Australia, killed by their partner, or former partner, as a result from domestic violence”.
“It is the main cause of most of the deaths for women under 45”. A report prepared by KPMG, the financial cost of domestic violence in Australia stands at $14.7 billion”.
“Religion has God, a Goddess, who show women in high regard and respect, yet violence & abuse still occurs against women”.
Pallavi then discussed what the government is doing about it – “Malcolm Turnbull not long becoming PM allocated $100 million on domestic violence, to combat it and Domestic Violence prevention programs.”
“Mike Baird has also allocated $60 million to combat & prevent Domestic Violence.”
“There is also $20 million spent on a range of things, including on women refuges”.
She concluded mentioning other initiatives, such as kitchen discussion groups and friendship cafes. “
As Mahatma Gandhi once said, be the change that you wish to see in the world”.
Dr Sundhar from the Sydney Indian Community spoke how Domestic Violence, is not just women, but men too. Australia government health and family services data, shows that 87% Domestic Violence cases each year are women/children as the victims and 13% are men as the victims. About 1-2 men are killed each year as a domestic violence.
“Confront it, stop it, prevent it” “Tell other men and perpetrators to get help. Raise Awareness of White Ribbon.”
Senior constable David Kalson from the New South Wales Police said, “Statistics show that now a staggering of 64% assault cases are Domestic Violence related. 84% of Domestic Violence cases, it is not reported, till it’s too late, the Police are involved .Why is it not reported ? Reasons include cultural, self-esteem, sad depressed and despair”.
Speaking about what can be done to turn this around “Key word is education.” “Have the education, have the respect and then have the prevention”.
“There is approximately 120,000 cases of domestic violence cases each year, that includes assault, damage, stalking, fire arms, communications/social media offences, stealing etc. Best thing to overcome Domestic Violence is education, that leads to respect and then change”.
Sydney Indian community immigration Lawyer Kalasa Chakra also spoke about how “Divorce under Australian law is easier and that is a factor contributing to Domestic Violence and marriage issues, such as dowry, visa, cultural shocks such as transport and new surroundings.”.
Bijinder Dugal from the Australian-Indian Aged-Care Support Holistic Association (AASHA) from the audience, spoke how “elderly migrants can be very vulnerable to Domestic Violence, either seeing what is happening at home, or being Domestic Violence victims themselves”. “Special care must be there, to look out for migrant elderly people, who are very vulnerable and can be at risk on Domestic Violence”.
Federal MP Craig Laundy MP and State MP Jodi McKay MP, as the local parliamentary members, also gave their insights about what has been happening, what is being done about it and the great work being done at Homebush Boy’s high School, with their involvement in White Ribbon.
Next day on Sunday, the United Indian Associations (UIA) headed by John Kennedy and Sue Advani, held a White Ribbon event, with 100 people in support and raised around $2,000 for the White Ribbon cause.
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