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'Changing our communities, by getting rid of social stereotypes'

Greek Australian Ismene Thiveos, Prevention of Family Violence Adviser State Government Victoria with SBS Greek's Pano Apostolou. Source: SBS Greek

Greek Australian Ismene Thiveos is an adviser officer for family violence prevention for the State Government of Victoria and she talks to SBS Greek.

 

Ismene Thiveos is an advisor for the State Government of Victoria, advising Minister for the prevention of Family Violence and Indigenous Affairs, Natalie Hutchins. Part of her role is to implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

'What came out of that was the need to have prevention activities across the State of Victoria in different settings. It's about how do we change the behaviours and attitudes of men and boys and also of women, so we can have a respectful Victoria and a decrease in family violence', Ms Thiveos told the Greek Program. 

She believes that any significant progress is yet to come explaining that it is about an inter-generational change. 'These things don't happen overnight. But we, as a State Government, have progressed almost two-thirds of the Royal Committee’s recommendations.'

These recommendations are about types of responses. 'For instance', Ms Thiveos says, 'how do we take care of the women who are fleeing from family violence, in terms of domestic family crisis, accommodation, family court orders and police response. In terms of prevention, we see now that there is a lot of goodwill, so a lot of people want to do the right thing. Also, there are evidence-based programs that we can as a society put forward to ensure that we getting the best results. The more we do this, the more can say that is working. Furthermore, we need to approach the young generation, in schools and even in preschools. When you foster gender equality and respectful relationships, we see that flow out into high schools and universities.'

Women in politics

We asked Ismene Thiveos about the discussion that takes place with regards to domestic violence and the future generation of women in politics and in senior positions. 'We don't see lots of women in politics because of the way we perceive them. We have a very strict gender role that we continually fight as a society; we still have traditional gender roles. We discuss positions of leadership in the sense of traditional male authoritative language or roles. 

Ms Thiveos states that only when we as a society accept that we can all do the same job and that we all have the same skill-set we will see more women in leadership positions. 'Politics by its nature is a very aggressive boys club in the sense of who gets pre-selected or the hollering during Question Time. That could be not a very nice environment to work in. Until we change cultures in politics itself and change our perception of women in politics, then we can see real gender equality in politics.'

According to the Government of Victoria's advisor, this is a hard task for the ethnic communities. 'That’s because we have intergenerational ingrained thinking. Today we see that people are having conversations at home that continue to ingrain that culture. Many have conversations with their parents or grandparents who have gender roles.

'For instance, they don’t encourage women to have a career, or those parental responsibilities shouldn’t be even between a man and a woman.

'This is something that we see in many ethnic communities, for instance, women usually take up the role as domestic labourers and do unpaid housework they have carers responsibilities whether it's the elderly parents or their children. So, until we see those fundamental gender norms change, we won't be a lot of progress.' 

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