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Domestic violence workshop at Woodend brigade
Woodend Fire Brigade Captain Mick Christie was at a recent regional meeting where a new program ‘Against domestic violence’ was discussed. “They were looking for some CFA brigades to become involved and participate in a special workshop”, Mick said, “and I was more than happy for Woodend brigade to participate”.
The session was organised by CFA’s Beth Taylor, Manager for Brigade Sustainability, Fire & Emergency Management.
“We took advantage of one of our regular weekly training sessions,” Captain Christie added, “and devoted it to this important workshop.”
The special interactive workshop was organised through the Loddon Malley ‘Take a Stand’ group and presented by Courtney Lucanto, who has considerable experience in legal areas of domestic violence and youth programs, and Jeremy Forbes, a Castlemaine-based tradie who is involved with HALT (Hope Assistance Local Tradies) and MRSPAG (Macedon Ranges Suicide Prevention Action Group). Karen Dunstan from the Macedon Ranges Shire also attended.
The 1.5 hour session was attended by 20 Woodend brigade members, and covered a wide range of important issues in relation to domestic violence, Members participated in several thought-provoking interactive and discussion sessions.
“I was staggered to discover that 40 per cent of all murders in Australia are related to domestic violence,” said Captain Christie. “At an average of two deaths per week. I thought it was really important that our members had a greater understanding of this tragic issue in our society.”
One interesting discussion was around the fear of sexual assault (see whiteboard in photo). When the male side was discussed only two issues were raised, but when it turned to females the whiteboard was quickly filled with issues and considerations – many coming from men.
The session also covered areas where the CFA may become involved or associated with domestic violence. For example, the stress in families and relationships following disastrous bushfires such as Black Saturday.
“It can even become part of a CFA call-out,” added Woodend 1st Lieutenant Mike Dornau. “We were called to a fire recently during the fire restriction period. A neighbour called in that someone was burning off in a backyard, during the restriction period. When we arrived on scene we found a distressed female, who was more concerned about her own safety.
“It turned out that the fire had been started by a former male partner, burning certain possessions – some quite toxic. We also discovered that the male had an intervention order in place and shouldn't have been near the property. So we had to not only deal with the fire, but had to call the police to sort out the domestic issue.”
The point was made that domestic violence was present in all communities, even small ones such as Woodend, and statistics indicate that it is quite common. It also covered the Safety First priority for CFA members in such circumstances. Members were presented with special information kits.
If people are concerned about domestic violence, or interested in getting more information, they should get in touch with Loddon Mallee Women’s Health. Contact Health Promotion Officer Marnie Jewell on 0415 916 963.
- Woodend brigade members at the domestic violence workshop.
- Presenters Jeremy Forbes and Courtney Lucanto.
For more information contact Woodend brigade 1st Lieutenant Mike Dornau on 0409 093 935.