By Jessica Anstice
Two community leaders were recognised for their commitment to ending violence against women.
The awards were presented at the 2019 White Ribbon event, held at Outlook Community Centre on Thursday, to two men in recognition of their continued efforts in raising awareness and preventing men’s violence against women.
The Tony Fitzgerald Award was presented to Victoria Police family violence training officer for Casey, Cardinia and Greater Dandenong Division Senior Sergeant Darron Hedge.
“I didn’t expect to receive the award but it’s nice to be recognised,” Sen Sgt Hedge said.
“It’s certainly an area that’s new to me and I’m really passionate about ensuring we get better at how we respond to it.”
Sen Sgt Hedge runs training sessions for Victoria Police staff – focusing on elderly abuse, youth and people with disabilities.
“When I run my training we often talk about priority groups that members are dealing with, the challenges they face and how we can assist,” he said.
“When I go to any types of forums or information sessions I bring back some of the issues to my members.“
The police officer of 30 years said the police force is “catching up” with technology.
“We have technology that’s going to assist our members in the way that we respond to family violence incidents,” he explained.
“In Cardinia, police officers wear cameras now and soon they will be able to take statements and get evidence from the victims of family violence at scenes without having them relay information over and over again – re-traumatising victims.”
The inaugural Garry McQuillan Award was presented to Cardinia Shire Council’s Owen Hardidge for his commitment to creating awareness about family violence.
“I was surprised when I received the award,” Mr Hardidge said.
“I only ever considered myself a part of the team.”
The Cardinia Shire Council prosecutions team leader is involved in council’s family violence action team.
Outlook Community Centre’s White Ribbon Ambassador Michael Wright said it was “fantastic to be able to recognise the award recipients’ efforts”.
“The guest speakers were wonderful, particularly with Cardinia Shire Council CEO Carol Jeffs and Aligned Leisure CEO Simon Bryson sharing personal experiences.”
Guest speaker Kathryn Stevenson from Richmond Football Club was inspirational and involved the audience in her presentation.
“If we’re going to solve this problem you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Ms Stevenson said.
“This is an uncomfortable, complex, difficult and huge problem.
“It’s not going to be fixed overnight but let’s get comfortable with addressing it as it comes up to us.”