Domestic violence was the topic of conversation at the MC Labour – Carlton Respects Seminar last Friday. Over one hundred MC Labour staff from Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, alongside valued clients and industry partners, gathered together to learn about the Carlton Respects program, listen to Simone O’Brien story, and to hear from OurWatch the Australian foundation to prevent violence against women.
The event began with a warm welcome by our Relationship Manager, John Morris. John introduced the mornings events, gave a brief introduction to the day’s speakers, and told the story of MC Labour.
“MC Labour was founded by Marc and Cath 25 years ago in their lounge room.” He said.
“They built MC Labour on strong family values and healthy relationships. While we’re a much bigger company now than we were then, these values remain the same.”
“We have thousands of site workers.” He continued. “This partnership with Carlton Respects, and this seminar today, is the first step in spreading awareness and influencing change to the wider MC Labour workforce.”
“657 times per day a woman is abused by a male. That’s abuse every 2 minutes.”
We then heard from Adrian, on behalf of the Carlton Respects team, who shared a powerful video showing some alarming statistics and an introduction to the Carlton Respects schools program, designed to educate and provide awareness on domestic violence to our younger generation.
“Unequal and disrespectful behaviours are formed from a young age, and ultimately lead to inequality as our children grow up…we strive to encourage the strengthening of positive, equal, and respectful relationships from an early age… By embedding gender equality into our children, it is possible to prevent violence against women before it occurs.”
“1 in 4 women experiences sexual or physical abuse which escalates to murder on a weekly basis”
For many of us, Friday was our first introduction to Simone O’Brien. Simone is a mother of three and a survivor of domestic violence. She began by stating that “64 women, and 11 children will not get to see Christmas this year [because of domestic violence]”, a statistic that instantly alarmed and caught the attention of the room.
Simone proceeded to describe her relationship with the perpetrator, the red flags that ultimately lead to the violent and horrifying conclusion to their relationship, and the effect this all had on her family. The room sat in absolute silence as she told her story, fully engaged as she listed the red flags with the words ‘controlling behaviours’ ‘belittling attitudes’ ‘stealing’ ‘telling lies’ and ‘inconsiderate actions’ projected in big bold letters at the front of the room.
She went on to talk about the warning signs colleagues may exhibit if they are a victim, listing the signs as “distracted” “coming to work with bruises and marks” “not looking as sharp as before” and “taking more sick days than normal”. Simone also spoke directly to victims, advising “Break the silence. Talk to your coworkers or bosses. Don’t be embarrassed. Stand up, speak out”. She emphasised that “You can say NO”. We learnt from her that the workplace is quite often one of the safest places for a victim.
After Simone concluded her story, reiterating the importance of building a supporting community in order to prevent domestic violence, the room was given the opportunity to ask Simone questions. “Don’t hold back!” Simone encouraged, emphasising that no topic was off the table. She answered questions about how soon the perpetrator started showing warning signs, more about the warning signs, whether her kids picked up on these signs and how they felt about the perpetrator. One man even questioned how he could protect his own daughters who are active on internet dating sites.
“1 woman a week is murdered by a current or former partner”
Cara Gleeson, the Director of Practice Leadership at Our Watch was the next to speak. She began her talk by explaining who Our Watch are, and their purpose. “Since 2014 we’ve developed our purpose as a thought leader; working collaboratively with big-reach partners to inspire change, mobilise effort and amplify the cultural change that will see Australia free from violence against women.”
Cara followed up her introduction with some gutting statistics: “1 in 5 Australian women have experienced sexual violence, 1 in 3 Australian women have experienced physical violence, 1 in 4 Australian women have experienced violence from a partner, police attend 657 domestic violence callouts every day” and one particularly startling statistic “domestic violence costs Australia $21.7 billion each year”.
“This is why Our Watch is needed” Cara emphasised, explaining how primary prevention of domestic violence comes from “whole-of-population initiatives that address the primary drivers of violence.”
Cara was clear in stating that all violence is “abhorrent, regardless of whether it is against a man or a woman”, but that statistics clearly show that women are more likely to be a victim of domestic abuse than men, and that is why they are Our Watch’s focus.
“But what can we do?” she continued, introducing the room to the 3S’s: Show, Support and Speak up. “You can show it’s not okay by rolling your eyes, walking away, or simply by not laughing… show your support! Ask if she’s okay. Acknowledging the situation… and speak up! Say “why is that funny” or even “let’s move on shall we?”… doing nothing does harm.”
To conclude the seminar, John Morris returned to thank the speakers, guests and MC Labour’s founders and Directors Marc and Cath Lunedei. “Thank you for creating a culture and environment that allows us to take this pathway to work towards gender equality,” he said. John then invited Marc and Cath, to be the first in signing the MC Labour Pledge wall.
“I will stand up, speak out and act to promote gender equality for the prevention of violence against women.” Reads the pledge wall, now signed by over a hundred MC Labour staff, valued partners, and Australian Middle-weight Champion and AFLW footballer, Tayla Harris.
For more information on Carlton Respects, head to https://www.carltonfc.com.au/carlton-respects
For more information on Our Watch, head to https://www.ourwatch.org.au/
1800 RESPECT : National sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling and information referral service. Or visit https://www.1800respect.org.au/