Domestic Violence impacts all communities, cultures and socio-economic groups. In Bankstown and Canterbury domestic and family violence has been repeatedly identified throughout community consultations and crime profiling as a significant issue for our local community.
The It’s Time to Talk campaign emerged in 2007 after key stakeholders across Bankstown and Canterbury came together with a desire to develop an innovative program that sought to encourage the community to better understand the issue and empower them to act.
The project began with a research component that focused on identifying local issues and barriers to reporting domestic violence, as well as investigating the success of domestic and family violence awareness campaigns operating both in Australia and around the world. The research identified a highly effective campaign operating in the United States which had impacted rates of reporting and would be transferrable to our local setting, ‘It’s Time to Talk’ was then developed based on this model.
Initially an information brochure was developed which was translated into 5 community languages, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Dari and Vietnamese. The brochure focused on local facts and figures relating to domestic violence, encouraged people to start talking about what has traditionally been considered a taboo or private topic, provided simple tips on how people can support their friends or family who may be a victim of violence and contact numbers of local services. This brochure was distributed across Council facilities, local libraries, police stations, community and neighbourhood centres and doctors offices across both local government areas.
Following this a short intensive marketing campaign was held that aimed to raise awareness under the general themes of Domestic Violence is everybody’s business, it is a crime and a community without violence is a community without fear. Campaign advertising was displayed in shopping centres, movie theatres, in bus shelters and on local buses, on roadside billboards and in council facilities. An SMS service was used to send text messages regarding the campaign to local residents, a website developed and drink coasters displaying the campaign logo and contact numbers were distributed across licensed premises. Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research indicated a spike in domestic violence reporting during the period of the intensive marketing campaign.
Following the initial public awareness campaign in 2007, the steering committee continued to distribute the brochures, maintain the website and hold information stalls in local shopping centres. In 2008 and 2009 they also hosted a series of professional development workshops to build capacity in the local sector which supports victims of domestic violence. These incorporated presentations by a wide range of health, law enforcement, law, family support and program professionals outlining the social, health and psychological impacts of Domestic Violence, the criminal law process and successful programs that have helped address the issue. These speakers donated their time in support of the campaign.
As the campaign continued to evolve the steering committee began to focus on services utilised by women that didn’t necessarily have a domestic violence focus. In 2009 the committee partnered with two local divisions of general practitioners to educate local doctors about the signs of domestic violence and encourage them speak to patients in order to identify the circumstances of physical and emotional harm and to refer them to appropriate medical and support services. Further training for general practitioners was delivered in 2010 and 2011. Our recent evaluation found that 95% of doctors who attended the training were able to go back to their practice and identify at least one patient they believed was a victim of domestic violence.
In 2010 a number of workshops were also held for childcare professionals. These workshops focused on how to talk to families about domestic violence and strategies to work with children who may be living in a household where violence occurs, the legal requirements for reporting, the impact of Apprehended Violence Orders on parent’s access to children and local support services available.
Domestic Violence continues to be a concern in our community, however by raising community awareness and seeking to build capacity in our local workforce we are aiming to support victims and create a community where domestic and family violence is not tolerated.
The auspice organisation of the campaign was Bankstown City Council, now known as the City of Canterbury-Bankstown.
The “It’s Time to Talk” Steering Committee includes:
• City of Canterbury-Bankstown Council
• Sydney Women’s Counselling Service
• Bankstown Women’s Health Centre
• United Muslim Women Association
• Canterbury Domestic Violence Liaison Committee
• Bankstown Domestic Violence Liaison Committee