As a survivor of violence herself, Brimbank deputy mayor Georgina Papafotiou is determined to raise awareness on this pressing issue, by becoming an advocate for all victims.
Cr Papafotiou went as far as to offer the Council’s meeting an insight into her own experience in an effort to shed more light onto the challenges individuals in her position face that more often than not become barriers preventing people from speaking out.
“Having experienced violence, I know the challenges women face in seeking support and protection,” Cr Papafotiou said.
“I’m proud that I spoke up and sought assistance as this problem doesn’t belong to one individual or one level of government. It’s up to all of us to affect change. No woman should feel alone when she experiences violence. Every woman should feel safe to protect herself and her family.”
In the last year alone Brimbank City Council undertook more than 40 activities to advance gender equity and prevent violence against women and children in the community, however, the councillor clarified, “it is a matter that not only concerns women and children, but men as well.”
Stressing that lack of understanding remains a problem to this day regardless of how many times the issue is brought to the spotlight, speaking to Neos Kosmos Cr Papafotiou said that significant investment is needed from the top tiers of government to help support services and programs at the coalface,
“There is only so much that can be done on a local level.
“Despite our best efforts, local government is limited in its capacity to bring about lasting change,” Cr Papafotiou noted, applauding the work of the late Fiona Richardson MP and the inroads she has made to improve prevention and intervention.
Again, Cr Papafotiou highlighted that the state government needs to maintain this momentum so that prevention and early intervention results in a major reduction in violence against all Victorians: women, children and men.
The councillor feels honoured to be in a position where she can voice the concerns of individuals suffering similar predicaments. For Cr Papafotiou, violence comes in many forms not just domestic and goes all the way beyond relationships to include cyber-bullying, stalking, harassment, threatening, bullying, sexual assault and more.
“It’s so important that victims are provided the support and confidence to say ‘NO’ to violence and to have the protection and safety to do so,” she explained.
“I believe that the more attention we bring to this issue, the closer we will come to improving outcomes for all. We have to keep talking and take action as a community. I will continue to approach ministers, shadow ministers, senators and service providers to explore ways and to achieve legislative change to protect all of us. I encourage all victims to reach out for support!”