Monthly Archives: March 2015

Doncare produces iMatter app

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 12.34.52 pmSOME people may find it hard to realise the warning signs of a potentially violent partnership at first. Young or old, no one is immune to the psychological predatory behaviour that domestic violence abusers use to isolate victims before subjecting them to more physical abuse.

Unfortunately, when family and friends try to intervene they are pushed away because the victim is in denial about their situation: their judgement clouded by emotion.

As is common in abusive relationships, the victim may experience feelings of shame, intimidation and fear, compounded by the isolation from support networks that generally accompanies domestic abuse.

To combat this, local Manningham counselling service Doncare has developed a revolutionary new app called iMatter, which takes the perceived judgement and pressure out of identifying and accepting that one may be in a harmful relationship.

The app is designed to help young people recognise the early signs of abusive and controlling behaviour and empower them to avoid and leave unhealthy relationships.

iMatter includes images, quizzes, videos, a diary and links to information about domestic abuse services in every country in the world. It also includes positive messages designed to encourage resilience and self-esteem in young people.

The project is managed by Youth Foundation facilitator Katherine Georgakopoulos and Doncare’s placement student Jo Maddock, who both oversaw the launch of the iMatter app on February 14 by Australian of the Year and anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty.

“These types of relationships aren’t always as obvious as a black eye or split lip, so it is vital victims are empowered to deal with psychological abuse as well,” Rosie says.

“I think throughout our communities, at any age, we’re learning it’s not just about physical violence,” she said. “Violence is also psychological, which includes verbal. It’s not just about physical harm, it’s far more complex than that.”

Batty said it wasn’t until she was 40 that she finally realised the psychological and physical abuse wasn’t her fault, proving the importance of young people being able to recognise the warning signs early.

Recent Australian research has revealed that 22% of women under the age of 20 have experienced intimate partner violence and what’s even more concerning is that many young women misinterpret behaviour like extreme jealousy and controlling tendencies as signs of love and affection. From these figures it is clear that an app of this kind is long overdue and the creators have already seen an overwhelming response.

Doncare director Carmel O’Brien says, “We hear again and again from young people that they are putting up with things in relationships that are really very disrespectful and sometimes frightening.”

Working closely with domestic violence victims, the Doncare team is aware that young women feel they are rarely warned about the very fine line between controlling behaviours and abuse. The app also promotes self-esteem and confidence, as Batty believes low self-esteem can lead young women to enter and remain in damaging relationships.

“If you’re approaching a relationship when you have no self-esteem, you’re most likely to enter into a toxic relationship,” Batty said. “It will not get better, it will wear you down and will reduce you to a very low point.”

Her most important message? “If (the relationship) doesn’t feel right, get out of it. Get out.”

If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au

In an emergency, call 000.

The iMatter app is available at iTunes and Google play stores.

Calmer waters for Melbourne Hill Rd

A SOLUTION to Melbourne Hill Road’s drainage issue could become the benchmark for other ecologically sensitive catchments within Manningham.

An epic struggle by residents for sustainable, cost effective stormwater management has inspired a new approach by Manningham council.

Although originally set to enforce an unpopular and costly scheme for localised flooding issues in the catchment, after sustained community campaigning council engineers are now considering alternative solutions.

Council has obtained a $50,000 grant from the state-funded Living Rivers Program (a previously unexplored option), which will be matched from council coffers to provide a $100,000 budget. This will allow investigation of more environmentally sustainable stormwater management possibilities in the troubled catchment.

Consulting engineering group BMT WBM has been appointed to conduct this feasibility study, which is planned for completion by the end of May.

Council has also undertaken a more consultative approach to management of the issue. Formalised in a ‘Terms of Reference’ document instigated by the community representative panel, this approach is an effort to bring more open and informed discussion around the issue.

Highly regarded strategic environmental engineer and president of Stormwater Australia, Andrew Allen, was a welcome new addition to the recent reference panel meeting.

It is expected Allen, who had been seconded from Manningham council to the office of Living Victoria during much of the original resident/council debate, will add his considerable depth of knowledge in sustainable flood mitigation to the project.

Cr Sophy Galbally, who has continued to campaign for a balanced solution to flood management in the catchment is satisfied with the progress so far.

“I was pleased to meet the senior executives from BMT WBM at the recent reference panel meeting where residents, council engineers and ward councillors were able to convey the issues they hope this study may be able to address. I sincerely hope the consultants’ report, which is welcomed by all, will provide council with innovative and sustainable options for all areas in need of flood mitigation, particularly in the Mullum Mullum ward,” Cr Galbally said.

Residents’ spokesperson Peter Noye told the Diary: “The representative panel stand committed to a more environmentally sustainable and economical outcome. We thank the councillors for voting towards seeking a more cost effective and sustainable alternative.”

The next community meeting on the Melbourne Hill Rd issue will be held at Warrandyte Uniting Church, Taroona Ave tonight (March 10) at 8pm.