Call for bystander action to prevent sexual violence

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and the community is being asked to be conscious that the actions of bystanders are important in combating sexual violence and prevention.

Bystander actions and engagement, such as the collaborative effort of the Central Australia Health Service and Alice Springs community organisations, is a pledge to challenge attitudes, norms and behaviours with the aim of preventing further victimisation.

The Central Australia Health Service’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and other community organisations are using this opportunity to raise awareness about sexual violence and prevention.

“The issue of sexual violence has been slow to enter the public domain but we all need bystanders to  intervene and assist in situations that are high risk for sexual violence, which means getting support from others around you or calling on others for help,” said Dr Jennifer Delima, SARC Director Clinical Forensic Medicine.

“We need to feel safe and supported to speak up about sexual violence and want safe and supportive systems around us that will encourage community members to speak out,” said Maime Butler, Chairperson of the NPY Women's Council.

“We need to move from individual bystander actions to a collective response in relation to sexual violence, which can take different forms depending on the context and safety aspects,” said Tully McIntyre, Community Development at the Alice Springs Women’s Shelter.

“Bystander actions in sexual violence situations can mobilise individual action to a collective response and thereby stopping serious harm inflicted on a person,” said Ms McIntyre.

“Being an active bystander can take many forms such as responding to sexist and violence- supportive jokes and comments. Responding in situations like this raises awareness about the conduct and is contributing to a healthier community,” said Vicki Hayes, Aboriginal sexual assault worker, SARC.

This year’s theme is Embrace Your Voice and SARC Alice Springs is making use of its voice by having an Open Day and celebrating 30 years of service to the Alice Springs community. The event will be held at 44 Railway Terrace on Thursday 19 April from 10am- 2pm.

This is a great opportunity to meet the SARC staff, get to know the venue, learn about the service and other collaborative partners as well as network. There will be a smoking ceremony, stalls, live music, films, light refreshments and cake.

If you are a survivor and this is creating stressful reactions for you, support is available through the nationwide 1800 RESPECT number: 1800 737 732 or your local Alice Springs SARC service on 08 8955 4500.

Media contact: Nicole Ogilvie – 08 8951 5259 or 0401 114 113.

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