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The Swich Speaks Out: community groups gather for inaugural DV summit

Allison Baden-Clay Foundation Chair of the Board of Directors Vanessa Fowler with Cr Marnie Doyle on day one at The Swich Speaks Out - 2023 Ipswich Domestic and Family Violence Summit.

Ipswich City Council, in collaboration with the Domestic Violence Action Centre and the Ipswich Integrated Service System Working Group, hosts the inaugural The Swich Speaks Out – 2023 Domestic and Family Violence Summit in the city from Wednesday to Friday 3-5 May.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said domestic and family violence is a widespread, complex and persistent issue affecting people regardless of age, socio-economic status and cultural background.

“It is a complex issue and requires responses from multiple services and agencies that rely on each other to work collectively to deliver real outcomes that can save lives,” said Mayor Harding, who speaks on day two of the summit.

“Over the three days of this summit, we hope to come up with some innovative and creative solutions to a widespread problem affecting all communities. The clear message from this summit must be that domestic and family violence will not be tolerated.

“Council is well placed to work collaboratively with the community, other levels of government, and local agencies to play an important role in keeping Ipswich families safe and supported.”

Community, Culture, Arts and Sport Committee Deputy Chairperson Councillor Kate Kunzelmann said out of the three levels of government, council was often the closest to the community.

“As such, council plays an important role in raising awareness of domestic and family violence, the available services and building a safe and inclusive community. Council’s role is one of connector and community leader,” Cr Kunzelmann said.

“Domestic and family violence – where one person in an intimate personal or family relationship uses violence or abuse to maintain power and control over the other person – is one of the most serious and urgent social, health and safety issues facing our nation.

“This violence does not always involve physical assault but can also include emotional, psychological, financial, sexual and social coercive control perpetrated by words as well as actions. This violence is pervasive in our society.”

Division 3 Councillor Marnie Doyle last year moved a motion that council instigate a domestic and family violence strategy. With the support of councillors, council has expended considerable resources on an integrated service response, devising a web page, revising policy within its own workforce, and providing education and raising awareness.

Cr Doyle, who is speaking on the opening day of the summit, said since her election in 2020 she had been speaking with domestic violence victims, local support services, other elected representatives, and council officers about the further action our council can take in this area.

“I believe that council is, and should be, committed to reducing domestic and family violence in homes across our city,” Cr Doyle said.

“I introduced a notice of motion to council in 2022 calling for this commitment to be formalised through the development of a Domestic and Family Violence Strategy as well as the consideration of additional specific and practical measures in this space.

“As council’s position on this issue is largely established, I envisage that development of this strategy includes reviewing our existing policies, procedures, and practices and drawing these together into a single document that clearly and unequivocally states that council says no to domestic and family violence.”

Division 2 Councillor Nicole Jonic said domestic and family violence touched many Ipswich families and impacted both women and men.

“In our own lives, if we haven’t been personally impacted, almost all of us would know someone who has.  We have all seen the news reports of the latest sickening and reprehensible act of domestic and family violence,” Cr Jonic said.

“With this summit, as a dedicated event supporting Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month (May), the working group comes together with council, service sector and wider community to share evidence-based practice and inspiration for responding to and reducing domestic and family violence in our community.”

Division 1 Councillor Sheila Ireland said the summit is about ideas, inspiration and exploring how the Ipswich community can respond to domestic and family violence.

“It is about collective action planning and together, developing a two-year plan committed to responding to and reducing domestic, family and gender-based forms of violence in Ipswich,” Cr Ireland said.

“May is Domestic Violence Month.  We concentrate attention on the matter of domestic violence and its effects upon our community. Council is proud to participate in The Swich Speaks Out, Domestic and Family Violence Summit from 3 – 5 May.”

A remembrance ceremony and walk against domestic violence will be held on Wednesday evening as a local, inclusive, family-friendly community event to raise awareness to remember those who have been affected by domestic and family violence, and to remember those who have died and those who continue to suffer.

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