Speaking out or having a conversation with loved ones if you notice something amiss can be the key to saving lives.

This is the message from Griffith University’s MATE Bystander Program which is working with the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation to promote the prevention of Domestic and Family Violence.

“We think having the conversation is worth doing, of taking the risk. Yes, these are private matters but they can also be matters of life and death,” said Professor Paul Mazerolle, Director of the Griffith University Violence Research and Prevention Program.

“It’s really about educating people that there’s a way to intervene in a way that’s sensitive and careful.”

Targeting the business and corporate environment, the MATE Bystander Program will weave Allison’s story throughout, encouraging participant discussion while providing tactics on how to be an effective bystander.

“The bystander holds the key to preventing violence and harmful behaviour. We just need to equip all people with the knowledge and the tools to effectively intervene in safe and appropriate ways,’’ Professor Mazerolle said.

From the age of 15, one in six women and one in 16 men have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former partner. (Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence in Australia Report, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018).

In Australia, one woman a week on average, dying at the hands of her current or former partner. This is a statistic that we all have the capacity to influence, prevent and change.

‘The bystander holds the key to preventing violence and harmful behaviour’

Allison’s parents, Geoff and Priscilla Dickie, express their regrets on not speaking up about domestic and family violence while it was occurring to their daughter.

“Growing up we are often taught not to interfere in other people’s affairs, especially marriages, and for us this made it difficult to speak up. In Allison’s case, there was a difference in attitudes and increasing number of incidents happening over a long period of time,” said Allison’s mother Priscilla.

“Through our partnership with Griffith University’s MATE Bystander Program, we hope that we can teach the community how to identify these small things and how to approach and prevent domestic violence.

MATE Bystander Program Director Shaan Ross-Smith said they were inspired by the passion Geoff, Priscilla and Vanessa (Allison’s sister) have to ensure Allison’s story is used to educate and empower communities to prevent violence.

“We are excited to work on this partnership and continue to challenge and change attitudes about domestic and family violence through an amplified platform. We also look forward to the possibility of reaching a market that is often not associated with this topic, but one that can be just as easily affected by it.”

May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention month, and with the Queensland Government launching their ‘Do Something’ campaign the message and importance of discussion and action against this topic is off to a good start.

The upcoming Strive to be Kind campaign will include the MATE Bystander Program, withStrive to be Kind Dayon Friday, July 27, 2018.