Let’s make respect a reality
What is the project about?
The project addresses family violence, cultural patriarchal norms and gender inequality within the Greek-speaking community in Melbourne, Victoria.
For several years now, PRONIA has been active in raising the issue of family violence, advocating for survivors and undertaking primary prevention through community awareness and education campaigns.
The aims of the project are to:
- deliver a multidisciplinary campaign to raise awareness, build capacity & promote messages of respectful relationships and gender inequality;
- design an educational session program suited to the needs of children attending Early Education and Greek language schools encompassing cultural norms and sensitivities;
- deliver educational sessions to the Early Education and Greek language schools within a culturally safe environment; and
- design and deliver community education activities about family violence across a number of mediums, which capture cultural sensitivities and are delivered within a culturally safe setting.
PRONIA is using the grant to facilitate community awareness via the development of culturally relevant educational sessions to early learning centres and after-school Greek language schools. In addition to the development and delivery of the educational sessions, the project’s primary prevention work included community education via a number of forums, including Greek speaking radio, workshops, newspaper articles and the development of additional resources. A Greek bicultural/bilingual worker has been employed to deliver the project. The project’s activities have included:
- 11 general community education events;
- two activities with Alpha Early Childhood centre;
- four activities with Greek language secondary schools;
- six newspaper articles;
- 12 radio shows;
- a radio spot; and
- a short film.
Consultation with ANROWS, Intouch, community leaders and educators has been ongoing.
Action research focus
Our action research focussed on understanding the challenges and impacts of delivering primary prevention activities to pre-schools and Greek language schools.
- Surveys of participants in community education workshops.
- Critical reflection from project team throughout project activities.
- The development, implementation and review of education sessions for children attending early childhood centres and Greek language schools.
Where was the project conducted?
With Greek-speaking community members in Victoria and with educational session delivery to Greek language after-hours schools and early education centres.
November 2017 – June 2020
How has this project impacted communities, organisations and the region?
- The media campaign, radio announcements and articles, developed from late 2017 to early 2018, has raised the profile of family violence and our work within the community. Following the campaign, community groups have requested a total of 11 community education sessions, which were delivered between June and September 2018.
- We have created important partnerships with early childhood centre managers and have worked with them to develop a specific program, which focussed on the needs of the children in prevention work and aligned with relevant early childhood policies.
What worked well?
- The project worker was bi-cultural and bi-lingual worker and had an established and positive reputation within the community as a community educator. The professionalism, expertise and approachability of the community educator raised the significance of the project.
- The stakeholders involved in the project have been committed to addressing family violence. Working closely with the Alpha Early Learning Centre provided the opportunity to collaborate on developing sessions for the children within the standard requirements for childcare and to get feedback on how the session could be improved for greater impact.
- The CALD community is more open to receiving information from an organization they trust and have a relationship with and, importantly, from a worker who is known and trusted by the community. Both elements of the trust in the organization and worker must be present to gain advantage with the CALD community.
- The delivery of prevention activities requires the immediate availability of a family violence caseworker who is able to respond immediately to participants who may be triggered by information or wish to raise concerns about their, or another person’s, safety and wellbeing.
- Delivering sessions in schools and childcare centre works effectively when the educators are actively involved in the design and delivery of session for their class. It allows for the educators to build on work already delivered in class as well as to consider the needs of the students, the school and relevant outputs. Most importantly it creates capacity building for teachers and the school to grow and develop the work.
What did not work?
Engagement with the Greek-speaking schools presented as a greater barrier than expected. The project worker approached a total of nine Greek Secondary after-hours schools to deliver the project. There was strong resistance from schools due to their perception that parents would not be happy with the sensitive content. Resistance from non-religious based schools appeared in the form of the following statements:
“We here just to teach the language.”
“This a very sensitive topic. It will challenge parents.”
“Parents will object, it will cause unrest.”
Parish-based schools advised that the decision to deliver the sessions in class rested with the overarching religious body, which regulates the Greek language schools. Obtaining a final response about whether the session could be delivered has been challenging because it requires ongoing contact.
An additional challenge was working within the school terms and fitting in the family violence sessions, especially as the sessions required levels of approval and consent.
There are also challenges with the one-off funding cycles for family violence prevention work, due to the long-term nature of positive outcomes. The planning for the work commenced in March 2016, but funding will cease in December 2018. Despite the project being extended in December 2019, the project worker had already committed to another position and, thus, required the organisation to be creative with the delivery of the remainder of the project.
What did you learn from the project?
As with many communities, we have learned that there are strong patriarchal views about the roles of men and women in the Greek communities we work with in this project. The social stigma associated with family violence and the language barriers are additional challenges to prevention work.
The project has faced resistance from some sections of the population to its radio programs and articles. For example, there was a small number of elderly CALD women who questioned the purpose of the project, the effect of divorce rates on families and conveyed attitudes, which reinforced patriarchal norms. Some community members used phrases, such as “there are too many freedoms for women nowadays” and “women who speak up deserve to be punished.” The project has documented some of these forms of resistance to prevention work, which can help better tailor prevention initiatives in the future.
We also documented key learnings from delivering prevention in an educational setting. Given the established networks with after-hours language schools and the importance of educating young people about family violence issues, the resistance received was somewhat surprising.
Resistance included comments that there was “no family violence with any of the school community,” as well as delaying or cancelling meetings and events.
In delivering this project, we identified that:
- primary prevention activities in CALD communities, which are designed with cultural sensitivities in mind and delivered in language by bi-cultural and bi-lingual professionals, have the capacity to engage with community members on a group and individual level;
- resistance is to be expected – it’s another opportunity to reset community attitudes and behaviours;
- it’s important to deliver long term prevention activities through all the life stages starting from early childhood through to senior years; and
- it’s important be flexible, adaptable and re-frame information according to the audience.
Do you have suggestions for policy-makers, educators or service providers?
PRONIA has been delivering information within the prevention scope for a number of years. The messages around topics, which are traditionally taboo, such as family violence, gambling and mental health, require a persistent and culturally and linguistically relevant approach.
Changes in attitudes and behaviours around family violence are long-term and it is highly unlikely that there would be a visible change in the short term.
There are challenges in the one-off funding cycle for family violence prevention work. Work in the space is difficult and having a short funding cycle adds an additional factor of attracting and retaining staff. Funders need to commit to a minimum of a three-year funding cycle in the area of family violence primary prevention.
The work in this area requires ongoing review, consultations and redrafts. It also requires up-to-date information, such as new policies, responses to changing community needs and new research. Primary prevention requires a multi-pronged approach to deliver messages through a number of mediums including radio, print and education to all age groups.
Where to from here?
The project will be updating and completing its audio-visual resources, including:
- a short clip on “Calling out disrespect for women”; and
- a “Don’t be the one” radio spot.
Parenting groups have been set up with Alpha Childcare for the rest of 2019.
People and organisations to thank:
ANROWS, Intouch, Alpha Childcare, St Basil’s School Brunswick, Greek Community of Melbourne, Leadership of Moreland Senior Citizens Clubs, Jika Jika Community Centre, Darebin Women’s CALD Group, Vic Police, Neos Kosmos Media Group and 3XY.
The enthusiastic cooperation from the staff from the Greek Community Education Institute and St. Basil’s Parish provided outstanding support in the development and delivery of the resources.
Intouch & ANROWS provided invaluable support in all aspects of the Project.
Specifically, we would like to thank the following people:
Liz Orr – ANROWS
Maria Koleth – ANROWS
Nadine Hantke – Intouch
Dinar Tyas – Intouch
Frederiki Pertile – St Basil’s School Principle
Manos Tzimpragos – Greek Community Education Coordinator
Maria Vakalidou – Greek Community School Lead Educator
Elizabeth Sidiropoulos -Vic Police CALD Community Engagement Officer
Sotiris Hatzimanolis – Neos Kosmos Media Group Editor
Nikos Tsentikopoulos – 3XY Media Group Journalist