Community Engagement: 2018 “Inala says kNOw” Domestic and Family Violence Symposium

“Inala says kNOw”: our Inala Community House Community Engagement team Larissa Vaiomanu, Cindy Wang and volunteer Shania Vaiomanu.

On Thursday 10th May 2018, Inala Community House Community Engagement team was pleased to be part of 2018 “Inala says kNOw” Domestic and Family Violence Symposium held by Glenala State High School.

The Symposium started with an Acknowledgement of Country and a lively Traditional Welcome Dance by indigenous students.

In the opening speech, Acting Principal David Newman thanked all 20 community service providers in attendance, including Inala Community House. Glenala State High School success coach James Brewer later explained the context and significance of the Symposium:

Inala and its surrounding suburbs have changed significantly in the past ten years in reducing domestic and family violence. We are grateful for Glenala State High School for hosting this initiative and all our community service providers dedicated in saving lives every day.

We have heard all about the statistics and stories. We know victims and some of us may have even lived it – yet domestic and family violence remains an ugly problem. It is not just an Inala problem but a global one that requires global solutions, but today, we are starting with Inala. We are gathered today to empower ourselves by raising awareness and education about this issue. We are saying “No”.

Learn how and when to say “No” to domestic and family violence. It is not the easiest thing to do and may not come intuitively. Our students are the future. Today’s Symposium has gathered policemen, politicians, lawyers, community service providers and small local business owners under the same roof – to help over 200 students with us today.

A special thank you to Glenala State High School Student Jennifer Ngo for designing the official “Inala says kNOw” logo. It is a simple and effective logo – now increasingly displayed at various Inala businesses’ and organisations’ shopfronts. This is a good example of how our community can unite to shine light on a once silent issue.

So, our focus today is to find practical solutions, prevent future problems and engage our Inala community to eradicate domestic and family violence in the long run.

The first guest speaker was Kaitlin Pierce from Domestic Violence Action Centre. For years, Kaitlin had worked passionately especially in helping women in crisis.

Domestic violence is unbelievably common and a global phenomenon. Please be aware that there are many forms of abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, damage to property or personal belongings, verbal abuse, psychological abuse and emotional abuse, social abuse, stalking, intimidation and threats, financial abuse, spiritual and cultural abuse, technology abuse and more.

We thank the 20 service providers in attendance today who are specialised in supporting our Inala community regarding this issue. These people are the unsung heroes of our community as they are on the frontline confronting this issue every day. It will take an entire community to shift attitudes and make a real difference.

The second guest speaker was Leroy Loggins – an Australian/American retired professional basketball player. Leroy grew up in a tough neighbourhood and had established Leroy Loggins Community Organisation to provide sporting opportunities for disadvantaged youth. He shared his moving personal experience with domestic and family violence:

My family had a terrible secret – since young I could remember my dad constantly hitting my mum. Once I was seven, we were walking home and my dad pulled my mum into an alleyway and started hitting her out of the blue. My siblings and I were too scared to even look and thought  -‘am I going to witness my dad killing my mum?’”. We didn’t know how to react, what to do or where to seek help. My dad would even throw mum down the stairs. Once it got so bad that my mum broke down, took a butcher knife and threatened to kill us all. She was later sent to hospital. The fights were embarrassing but they would ‘sleep it off’ pretending everything was OK again. Mum wouldn’t get out of the house for days sometimes to hide her scars. Even though my dad did horrible things to my mum, I still love and respect him. We didn’t want to call the police because we didn’t want him to go away. Domestic violence was common within my neighbourhood, mainly men hitting women. I wouldn’t wish any of this upon anyone. I told myself – I would never hit a woman like my dad did. When I was asked to share my story today, I didn’t hesitate.

Domestic and family violence has been an ongoing issue in our society. What we need to do is like today’s Symposium, getting the entire community involved and talking openly about it. Today if you see something, you have the obligation to act. Just remember, don’t be ashamed and get help – because the life you save might be yours.”

A Q&A session between guest speakers and students was then held. Students were taught practical information and strategies when dealing with domestic and family violence.

Our Inala Community House team got to meet and answer various students’ enquiries, promote our services and distribute helpful information. We look forward to participating in more meaningful and proactive community events like today’s Symposium. Thank you Glenala State High School.

At Inala Community House, we provide a safe, confidential and supportive environment for everyone including those facing domestic and family violence. If you or know someone requiring help, please don’t hesitate to contact us: 3372 1711 | info@ich.org.au | 38 Sittella Street, Inala | www.ich.org.au.