Faith Communities urged to take advantage of Bystander Intervention Workshops 

Rev’d Ian Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Council of Churches and board member of the Faith Communities Council of Victoria Inc. says “there will come a time when you are faced with a situation in which you can intervene and help stop a potentially dangerous situation – stopping a drunk woman from  being led away by a sober stranger, eliminating bullying behaviour, or preventing an assault from occurring.  As a friend, partner, family or church congregational member etc. you are in a unique position to do something about preventing bad stuff from occurring.”

Dr Ree Boddé, Program Director of Think Prevent, says our bystander intervention workshops offer a broad range of opportunities to confront abuses when they occur that can be as simple as a word here or there or more involved behaviours that let people know that you will take action. Bystander intervention avoids victim blaming like ‘why didn’t she just leave?”, ‘she shouldn’t have led him on or, worn that short skirt.’ With bystander intervention the sense of responsibility shifts toward family, friends, congregations and the whole community. The questions start with “How could WE let this happen in our community?” and “How can WE learn to say something?”

Rev’d Ian Smith says, “it’s on church leaders as well as individuals to realise we all have a role to play in preventing gender violence. It’s on us to embrace the responsibility we have to stand up for the safety of those around us—to challenge each other to do everything we can to make our communities safe.”

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