vic_logo

VSAC share what Respect Is

For the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, members of the Victim Survivors' Advisory Council share what respect means to them.

Sunday 12 December 2021 10:00pm

Jennifer Jackson (Chair)

An image featuring a quote from VSAC chair, Jennifer Jackson in white text which reads “Respect is the foundation for safe, equal relationships.
An image featuring a quote from VSAC chair, Jennifer Jackson in white text which reads “Respect is the foundation for safe, equal relationships."

Respect is the foundation for safe, equal relationships.

Respect is the foundation for the way that we treat, react to and respond to others. By building on a foundation of respect, we create strong, safe and healthy relationships. Respect is the core of our behaviour in personal relationships, in community, in our workplace and social settings.

Respect for others is not bound to productivity, talent or behaviour but it is something that we all deserve because we are human beings. We know that disrespect causes damage. We see that reflected in family violence statistics and in many other areas of life, like the state of our planet. Disrespect leads to chaos and harm whereas respect allows for harmony, equality and the best for all of us.

By beginning with a foundation of respect, regardless of how different our worlds or experiences are, we can work towards a future where we are all free from disrespect and violence.

Geraldine Bilston (Deputy chair)

A photo with a quote in orange and white text which reads “Respect means equality and it means committing to equity.’
A photo of VSAC deputy chair, Geraldine Bilston with a quote in white text which reads “Respect means equality and it means committing to equity.’

Respect means equality, and it means committing to equity. Respect is about valuing people and seeing them as their whole selves. It's about centring dignity. And it’s about committing to the actions that will create a future where equality is a reality.

We can talk about women's safety, we can talk about 10-year plans, but what we need is action.

I think that the system and community attitudes are changing, but we still have a way to go. In this country, we have a history of outdated views that are very blokey, that don’t value women. We don’t have a lot of examples of healthy masculinity, and we need to start seeing leaders who model respectful, nurturing forms of masculinity.

I believe in a future where everyone is safe and respected, and I know that is achievable because family violence is completely preventable. When I look at my daughter, who will be an adult in 10 years, I don’t want to think that we might just be talking about another plan without much change. I want a different future for her – where she is safe and happy in the world, the workplace, in her relationships, and in her home. That’s my motivation.

Ash

An image featuring a quote from VSAC member, Ash in white text which reads “Respect is knowing that we all come from different backgrounds and experiences.
An image featuring a quote from VSAC member, Ash in white text which reads “Respect is knowing that we all come from different backgrounds and experiences."

It's acknowledging that we all 'do' life differently and making sure we check in with ourselves about the unconscious biases we hold. Discrimination, disadvantage and inequality come in many forms - and it's important that we are aware of our own privileges.

We glorify self-sabotage, sacrifice, and not choosing yourself when it comes to women - as mothers, as partners. That is where disrespect begins. Recognising unhealthy patterns and behaviours and putting a stop to them, so it doesn't trickle down to future generations - that is respect.

Adjusting to life here as a migrant, I regularly experience discrimination and am often put in a box. Respect is walking alongside people of different races, gender, sexuality or experience and going on a journey to find out what the world looks like for them. It's being gentle and showing warmth and curiosity when working or speaking with victim survivors.

Chantelle

A photo of VSAC member, Chantelle with a quote in white text which reads “Respect is calling it out and having the tough conversations.
A photo of VSAC member, Chantelle with a quote in white text which reads “Respect is calling it out and having the tough conversations."

It’s knowing that equality should start within our own communities. It’s about acknowledgement and accountability and owning your mistakes. To stop violence from happening and make sure victims are getting the respect they deserve, we have to talk about it and have the tough conversations.

We need to start seeing men holding each other to account and speaking up when something isn’t right. Even if you don’t think it’s your place, or don’t think it will matter, calling it out can lead to a positive ripple effect. Culture and community can play a big part in keeping everyone safe, and we have a responsibility to kids to set the right example.

By teaching kids about boundaries and limits, respecting other people’s spaces, we can plant the seed to show them what respectful relationships, friendships and families can look like.

Grace Donato

A photo of VSAC member, Grace Donato with a quote in white text which reads “Respect is calling out gender inequality and violence against women.
A photo of VSAC member, Grace Donato with a quote in white text which reads “Respect is calling out gender inequality and violence against women."

Respect is calling out gender inequality and violence against women. It's speaking up when something doesn't look or feel right, and when you know someone’s actions or words could be harmful.

We’re only just starting to learn as a community about the patterns of control that people can use in violent situations – whether it’s during the relationship, or afterwards.

It’s important that young people are taught early about coercive control, including the use of threats and emotional abuse.
And it’s important that we teach gender equality from the beginning, particularly for young men.

We must teach boys that respect is knowing that you don’t have ownership over anyone else and that it’s important to call out concerning behaviour when you see it or hear it.

Katrina

A photo of VSAC member, Katrina with a quote in white text which reads “Respect is knowing your power and your worth.
A photo of VSAC member, Katrina with a quote in white text which reads “Respect is knowing your power and your worth."

Respect is knowing your power and your worth. We underestimate ourselves as women, and we often feel like we have to work twice as hard to get respect, to be heard, to be seen as successful.

As Aboriginal women, it’s even more challenging. As an Aboriginal woman with a disability, I felt like I had to work ten times harder to gain respect from everyone around me, and I was judged because of my ex-partner. I work in family violence now, and I always tell clients: it’s all about taking the first step.

We can be our own worst enemies, and not see the value in ourselves. Violence was never our culture. There’s a saying we use – hands are for holding, not hitting. Anyone who uses violence is making a choice, but we must also recognise and deal with colonisation as a driving factor for violence, and the trauma that it has brought. Aboriginal women and Aboriginal communities – we’re worth more, and we must call that out.

Kym Valentine