Tackling domestic violence with the power of technology

Conversations about domestic violence are coming out from the shadows.

Last week the ABC’s Q&A hosted a family violence special, including Australian of the Year Rosie Batty. We saw an hour of dedicated television talking specifically about the problems within our culture which are contributing to a national emergency.

Primetime television is rarely this real. But it’s not going to be television alone that challenges and changes our society.

Last Thursday in Melbourne the Nappy Collective hosted Australia’s first bloggers conference on domestic violence.

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Chaired by Giaan Rooney, Nappy Collective founder Sandra Jacobs, Detective Rod Jouning from Victoria Police, and 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty spoke about changing the domestic violence conversation. Photo by Marc Alperstein.

In unison, Rosie Batty, Victoria Police, and Domestic Violence Victoria insisted that at the core of this national emergency is a desperate need for cultural change. A change that challenges both perceptions of power and control, and the phenomenon of victim blaming.

And with 30 of Australia’s most popular bloggers in attendance, change is in the air.

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30 of Australia’s most influential bloggers gathered at Australia’s first bloggers conference on domestic violence. Photo by Marc Alperstein.

There is now a significant opportunity to kickstart this cultural change, and it lies in the power of technology. Specifically, the growing and influential world of blogging.

Bloggers can change the world. They have the power to radically challenge stereotypes; they can change people’s thinking. They are more than media entities. They have a deep relationship with their audiences and understand the exact language needed to speak to their hearts.

I saw this firsthand when I launched the world’s first charity vlogger program in 2010, and Australia’s first charity blogger program in 2011.

These everyday people – mums, sisters, husbands and wives – have built their own media empires online. They are genuinely and intimately engaged with their audiences. They foster relationships built on trust and a sense of online friendship which is unique to our digital age.

One of Australia’s most popular bloggers, Darren Rowse from ProBlogger, has said that bloggers can put the microphone where it needs to be in society.

“They can shine a torch on the topics that are begging to be spoken about, and people really benefit from having those conversations,” he said.

“Bloggers do change the world. Yes, sometimes they make people buy shoes they might not need, but sometimes they can make really powerful things happen in society.”

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Darren Rowse, from ProBlogger, was in attendance. Photo by Marc Alperstein.

As a guest speaker at last week’s event, I explained that bloggers are the most powerful when their heart is in the game. When they speak with passion and fervour about issues they believe in, they can inspire meaningful action.

One blogger’s voice is powerful, but as a collective they are unstoppable.

We need to use the power of these unique voices to find solutions to the enormous problems our society faces when it comes to family violence.

We need to create ambassadors for change, people who can say things that organisations, brands, and campaigners can’t say.

It’s time we start a movement to engage and enrage Australia while working together, as a collective, to champion this massive cultural shift.

It’s not just about supporting one organisation or cause, raising funding, or even raising awareness. Instead, it’s about working from the ground up to change the way we have conversations about this topic. And there is no one better placed than these grassroots bloggers, who speak directly to Australians every day without any agenda.

We need to empower men and women to take a stand against the derogatory sexist behaviour which is rampant in our collective conversation.

We need to stop victim blaming, and instead be there for those who need support, believing them, showing compassion, and not judging them at any stage.

Bloggers can mobilise their audiences into action. Their readers are predominantly female, and as statistics show, one in three of these women will have been touched by domestic violence.

It’s not going to be easy, but as Rosie Batty said, we need to challenge stereotypes of power and control, and shake up paradigms of gendered thinking.

If there’s anyone with the power to challenge our social norms and facilitate a culture of change, I believe it will be bloggers.

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L-R: Richenda Vermeulen, founder and director of ntegrity; Moran Dvir, The Nappy Collective; Rosie Batty, 2015 Australian of the Year; Detective Superintendent Rod Jouning, Victoria Police; Giaan Rooney, OAM; Sandra Jacobs, founder of The Nappy Collective. Photo by Marc Alperstein.

If you or someone you know are experiencing family violence, call the National Family Violence Helpline: 1800 737 732.

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