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‘Men must be part of the solution for preventing family violence in Australia’: Judgebir Singh

Judgebir Singh (left), at a community meeting in Melbourne Source: Judgebir Singh

Judgebir Singh, who has recently been appointed Community Wellbeing Officer by a shire in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, strongly believes that men must play an active role in the prevention of family violence in the Indian community. He seeks to engage male members of the Indian community as part of his new role with the City of Whittlesea.

In the week after the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women was marked on November 25, at least four Australian women and one child have lost their lives in suspected family violence cases. 

Experts and social workers have been warning throughout this year that incidents of family violence have exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Taking cognizance of this, and on the back of SBS reporting about a string of suicides by women of Indian origin in the northern suburbs of Melbourne during the past few years, the City of Whittlesea has recently appointed a Community Wellbeing Officer for the Indian community living in this shire. 


Highlights:

Judgebir Singh, the first person to be appointed Community Wellbeing Officer for the Indian community by perhaps any shire in Australia, told SBS Punjabi, “I have no doubt that SBS’s reporting about the series of suicides by women of Indian origin in the City of Whittlesea and the fact that COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in incidents of family violence, were the catalyst to my appointment.” 

An active leader of the Indian Punjabi community in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, specifically in the Whittlesea and Hume area, Mr Singh is a strong advocate for gender equality. 

He has been involved with several community-based organizations to bridge grassroots communities with service providers and policymakers in terms of preventing family violence including suicide and other social issues. 

Judgebir Singh, who has recently been appointed as the Community Wellbeing Officer for the Indian community by the City of Whittlesea in Melbourne
Judgebir Singh, who has recently been appointed as the Community Wellbeing Officer for the Indian community by the City of Whittlesea in Melbourne
Judgebir Singh

As a member of Community Advisory Group of Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Safer and Stronger Communities (SaSC) Family Violence Prevention Project, Mr. Singh significantly contributed to women empowerment and  leadership to voice against gender based violence and access available supports and services.

Through his new appointment with the City of Whittlesea he wishes to actively involve men to bring about shifts in community attitudes to family violence. 

“I firmly believe that men must come forward and become part of the solution in family violence prevention. Men shouldn’t just be viewed as perpetrators. I think a majority of men want to live in a peaceful and happily thriving household and must be encouraged to make that a reality. ” 

Mr Singh says one of the biggest challenges is ensuring that the community understand the definition of family violence as described by Australian laws. 

Family violence doesn’t only relate to physical abuse. It could be verbal, psychological, financial or at any level where a woman isn’t seen as equal to a man. 

“Coming from India, where gender roles are clearly defined that men take all the financial decisions and women are primarily involved in running the household, we need to shift our thinking because we have chosen to live in Australia. This is even more important for the sake of our children because they are growing up here and we must align our thinking to them – this is essential for a happy and strong household.” 

He encourages people to speak up if they see friends, neighbours or family members perpetrating abusive behaviour. 

“To look the other way when witnessing violent behaviour is as bad as perpetrating violence yourself. So I encourage everyone to speak up if they see unacceptable behaviour – you can’t just dismiss it as a personal matter between two individuals and think you can’t get involved.” 

Mr Singh says mental health issues often go unnoticed in the Indian community as well, either due to the stigma attached to it. 

“Sadly many people in our community refuse to even recognise mental health problems as a legitimate issue. Even worse, even those who recognise it, tend not to seek help. We must break that cycle – there are so many services available here in Australia, but migrant communities don’t avail of them.” 

He encourages anyone in need of assistance to email him on judgebir.singh@whittlesea.vic.gov.au, so he can connect those in need with the appropriate services.

To hear the full interview, click on the audio link above. 

If you are experiencing domestic violence, you can seek help at 1800 737 732

If you are experiencing stress, call Lifeline at 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue at 1300 22 4636

Listen to SBS Punjabi Monday to Friday at 9 pm. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
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SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at http://www.sbs.com.au/coronavirus

 

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