CEO of Respect Victoria Tracey Gaudry believes one of the most powerful things an individual can do to help better Australia’s domestic and family violence crisis is make small, deliberate steps every day to call out sexism.
“The small shifts we make in our homes, relationships, workplaces and families can inspire change on a broader scale,” she shares with Women’s Agenda.
Gaudry explains that even the smallest of actions, like choosing not to laugh at jokes that put women down, or letting someone know their joke is inappropriate, can have a lasting effect in creating a more gender equal world. Gender inequality is one of the biggest underlying drivers of violence against women and making sure our decisions are based on the foundation of respect can an effective way to make a difference.
That’s why Respect Victoria is leading a campaign at the moment called Respect Women: ‘Call It Out’, that’s aiming to get people engaged in the small things they can do to build respect for women.
“Respect is having a frank conversation about sharing chores equally at home or talking to your workplace about putting new policies in place to promote equality,” Gaudry says.
“Calling it out can even be unpacking your own biases or thinking about the way you talk to kids about equality and gender.”
The campaign is all about fostering respect and equality at home, at work, in relationships, and in families. Tackling harmful attitudes and behaviours early and consistently can ultimately work to prevent violence and abuse.
“Respect should sit at the heart of all safe, equal and healthy relationships. Outdated stereotypes and attitudes about gender no longer have a place in our communities,” Gaudry says.
“By leading with respect where we live, work, learn and play – ensuring open and healthy communication, sharing responsibilities and recognition equally, and approaching conflict safely – we can all take steps towards a future where everyone is safe, equal and respected.”
The campaign was launched ahead of the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and comes as the crisis of domestic and family violence has escalated during the pandemic.
In Victoria, the national sexual assault and domestic family violence counselling service 1800RESPECT saw a 66 per cent increase in calls between April and June this year, compared to the same period in 2019. Recent studies have also suggested that victims are experiencing escalating violence and abuse.
But as Gaudry points out, the pandemic has also seen an increase in neighbours, friends and family members contacting services like Safe Steps for advice on how to support someone experiencing violence.
“This illustrates that change is already happening – as a community, we are identifying and calling out harmful behaviours and attitudes,” she says.
If you’d like to do more to support Respect Victoria’s campaign, you can head to their website or social media to get involved and use the hashtags #respectis and #16days. Or, you can spend some time working out what respect means to you, and develop your own Respect Is statement.
If you or someone you know if in immediate danger, call 000. If you need help and advice call 1800Respect on 1800 737 732, Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.