The youth are rising up against domestic violence

Members of GPAN Breeana Dodd, Sumeya Yussef, and Alixandra Colafella at the launch of 'Change Starts with You'. (Millicent Spencer).

Millicent Spencer

Young people in Hume are taking a stand against domestic violence, launching a new resource ‘Change Starts with You’.

The resource has been pioneered by the Good People Act Now (GPAN) project – a youth led community group in Broadmeadows which was established in 2014 to address the high rates of gender based violence in the municipality.

GPAN member Sumeya Yussuf said she joined the group after experiencing family violence herself.

“I personally experienced family violence in my family with my father,” she said.

“It was a very hard time in our lives and seeing how my family was in that situation [made me] want to help other people get out of it.

“I want to support the people who need it like I was supported when we needed it.”

Hume has some of the highest rates of violence against women in metropolitan Melbourne. In 2020, more than 3000 victim reports of violence were made to police in Hume compared to the Victorian average of 870.5.

GPAN member Alixandra Colafella said having grown up in Hume, she has noticed the way problematic behaviours play out in relationships.

“Growing up you notice how gender inequality seeps into relationships… you realise that the behaviours that you see in relationships around you are inherently disrespectful, and they don’t promote equality between the people,” she said.

“That’s why educating people, especially young people, about gender inequality, and how that leads to family violence, [enables them] to educate more people about respectful relationships.

“The GPAN program provides an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, and also better educate myself on how to counteract and make an active change to prevent family violence.”

The ‘Change Starts with You’ resource was developed in partnership with DPV Health, Banksia Gardens Community Services, and the Department of Education and Training.

DPV senior health promotion officer Whitney Exposto said she hopes the resource will help community members understand and identify the attitudes and behaviours that contribute to violence against women.

“This resource [has] all of the information that young people can utilise to help them understand what family violence looks like, what gender stereotypes are, the rates of family violence in their own LGA, which is in Hume, and also help them identify support services if they ever need it,” Ms Exposto said.

“This resource will help them have a better understanding of gender based violence and hopefully contribute to lower rates of family violence within Hume.

“We’ll be promoting [the resource] through schools, our networks, our partners, our family and friends [because] we want to get this resource out there.”