After sharing her experience as a victim of violence, Brimbank deputy mayor Georgina Papafotiou was flooded with calls of support.
That support was so strong that it’s acted as a catalyst to form a local group devoted to helping victims.
Cr Papafotiou said while the group is still in its formative stages, it will have an open-door policy for all victims of violence.
“As a victim of violence I’ve had a lot of doors shut for me because I didn’t fit under the umbrella of domestic violence,” she said. “It didn’t matter what I said or did, all service providers closed the door on me. We want to be a group that opens those doors for all victims.”
The group will also make it a high priority to bring about a change to the laws surrounding intervention orders and call for tougher penalties for repeat offenders.
“We’ll be demanding legislative change in three particular areas,” Cr Papafotiou said.
“A change in intervention orders, the way in which repeat offenders are dealt with and harsher penalties on these IVOs.”
Cr Papafotiou and two fellow councillors met with a small group of people last week to discuss the future direction of the group.
It will be a community group not officially affiliated with the council.
However, Cr Bruce Lancashire said it would be able to work in-hand with the council to lobby for change.
“We [the council] have very good relationships with all of the politicians and government departments within our area, so our ability to advocate for changes to legislation is one of the key things we can do.”
Cr Papafotiou hopes the group will be up and running by year’s end but said it will need some help.
“We’re starting with basics, so we need some people with a legal or IT background to do some pro bono work for a couple of hours a week during the first few months,” she said.
“We need assistance naming the group, getting it registered, creating a website, establishing an online presence and emails – all the basics.”
For all inquiries contact Cr Papafotiou on 0429 727 192.