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Ochre Ribbon Week seeks to prevent family abuse

Brewarrina Mayor Vivian Slack-Smith adds her signature in support of Ochre Ribbon week. PHOTO TWH

Layton Holley

How do we deal with the problems of family violence and abuse in the Bourke and Brewarrina communities?

Thiyama-li Family Violence Service held events in Brewarrina and Bourke on the 16th and 17th of February for Ochre Ribbon Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness for domestic violence in the Indigenous community.

Gathering on the banks of the Darling River, across from the Brewarrina fish traps, many listened to speeches made by liaison officers of the Domestic Violence Unit, Brewarrina Mayor Vivian Slack-Smith, and Kelsie Lovett of Mission Australia.

Brewarrina Mayor, Councillor Vivian Slack-Smith said that the day was important for everyone.

“Not just for indigenous people, but for the whole community – domestic violence just shouldn’t happen – it’s not on!” Councillor Slack-Smith said.

“Domestic violence doesn’t have to be physical – black eyes and stuff like that – there are many forms of domestic violence, and I think that we need to look at the emotional and mental toll it takes on a person as well.”

“We need to change people’s minds,” Kelsie Lovett said. “Many people in this community think that domestic violence is physical, but it isn’t just that; there is a lot of emotional and psychological damage too.

“I have had clients whose partner controlled their money, and we need people to understand that a relationship built on control, is not a healthy relationship.”

The next day, at the Centre of Excellence and Wellbeing in Bourke, BDCS preschoolers and fellow community members listened to speeches by Pen Molloy and Ivan Clarke, who spoke on behalf of the Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) and the Strong Aboriginal Men’s Program, before painting stones in honour of loved ones who have been affected by domestic violence.

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