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16 Steps to Respect mosaics installed

Published on 09 March 2023

Have you seen the mosaic installations at the Croydon and Ringwood police stations?

The mosaics were created as part of the 16 Steps to Respect Project, a partnership between Council, Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place, Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service, Victoria Police and Eastern Community Legal Centre. The project was funded by Safe and Equal, the peak body for specialist family violence services in Victoria.

The collaborative project brought men, women, elders and young people together to talk about what respect looks like, as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign in late 2022.

The tiles were gifted to Victoria Police and installed in Croydon and Ringwood police stations earlier this year.

Mayor of Maroondah, Councillor Rob Steane, said the partnership is an important part of ensuring a safe, culturally inclusive and welcoming community.

“Council is proud to have partnered in this collaborative project with Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place, Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service, Victoria Police and Eastern Community Legal Centre, as part of our support for the 16 Days of Activism campaign,” Cr Steane said.

“Projects that bring our community together, like this project did, are so important for ensuring all members of our community feel safe and respected.”

Elke Smirl, Chief Executive Officer, and Merilyn Duff, Health Coordinator/Ochre Program Team Leader, both of Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place, said the project was “deeply meaningful” in helping to “break down barriers” by “sharing stories and being vulnerable”.

“Shared experiences and stories increase our sense of courage and strength to step forward and to break cycles of violence and disempowerment,” they said.

“It is important to bring everyone together. This brings shared understanding, strengthens relationships and educates everyone. Most importantly, we better understand each other’s stories and experiences.”

Elke and Merilyn said the project also aimed to create a “greater sense of cultural safety for community members accessing police stations”.

“We want our Aboriginal community to know that there are safe places and safe people to speak to. By having our artwork and stories on the walls [in local police stations], we hope this will help.”

Michelle Maslen, Acting Inspector, Local Area Commander for Maroondah Police Service Area, hopes the project will help members of the community feel comfortable with reporting violence or abuse or calling out disrespectful behaviour.

“It is important that conversations are generated around the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence. We provide support to all communities in prevention-led activities and, in doing so, aim to build stronger networks and trust within our community,” Michelle said.

“By raising awareness about gender-based violence in our community, we can move towards change. Events are run each year, and anyone can be involved.”

Along with this partnership, Council supported the 16 Days of Activism campaign by displaying billboards around Maroondah, expressing messages of safety, non-violence, respect and gender equality. The messages were developed with local partner organisations and members of our Indigenous community, two Burmese communities and women with disabilities.

Council also shared social media posts in support of Women’s Health East’s Together for Equality and Respect (TFER) regional campaign, and supported Respect Victoria’s Respect Women: Call it Out (Respect Is) social media campaign.

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is impacted by gender-based violence, partner violence, elder abuse or sexual assault, contact:

  • 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732 for 24/7 confidential counselling, support and safety planning by trained counsellors
  • 1800 015 188 Safe Steps - Victoria’s 24/7 family violence support service
  • 1800 542 847 WithRespect - a specialist LGBTIQ+ family violence service
  • 13YARN / 13 92 76 - a national crisis support line for mob, with Lifeline-trained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporters available 24/7
  • InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence - call the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) on 131 450 and ask them to call 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732

In an emergency, you should always call 000.

Further information

For more information, visit the Safe and Equal website and the Respect Victoria website

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