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Alarming rise in violence against women and families- NSW

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CMRC-organised forum addresses safety concerns and support mechanisms

By Vish Viswanathan

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The tragic death of Mrs Prabha Arun Kumar through an unexpected attack at Parramatta Park in March this year, affected the community at large both in Australia and overseas. Of the many concerns raised, the safety of living in civilized countries was questioned. In an attempt to raise community awareness and advise on safety measures, the Community Safety Forum was organised by the Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC) on May 9 at the Old Government House in Parramatta.

Said Melissa Monteiro, Executive Director – CMRC, “We recognise and are deeply saddened that the life of Prabha Arun Kumar was tragically ended at the Parramatta Park. This forum was held in response to this incident, as well as to raise awareness and initiate a conversation with the community around safety concerns and violence. All kinds of violence within the family and women in particular is on the rise, and needs to be addressed collectively. As a community we need to take charge, be involved and work together with government and non-government agencies.”

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A number of the speakers also presented and discussed safety related issues including Paula Abood, Amrit Versha and the CMRC who presented a Family Violence research show with UNSW, and its recommendations; Kumud Merani, SBS Radio broadcaster who talked about the responses of women to this issue; Dr Renu Narchal from the University of Western Sydney (UWS), who presented CMRC / UWS research on help seeking attitudes of women from the Indian subcontinent and other communities. Other speakers were Namita Dhorajiwala, a Child Protection Case Worker who talked about the increase in family violence; Commander Wayne Cox from the Parramatta Police, Local Area Command, who spoke on initiatives of the police locally and responded to community concerns on safety issues; and Bharati Mehta from the Gandhi Peace Centre who shared local initiatives of their organisation via a skit. Dr Geoff Lee, MP and Julia Finn, MP for Granville unveiled a plaque in memory of Prabha Arun Kumar in the presence of Warren Schweitzer, CMRC Chairperson, and Parramatta Park Trust Director Suellen Fitzgerald, among other officials and guests.

In Parramatta Park, the walkway where the attack on Ms Kumar took place is now being upgraded in a bid to improve safety in the area, with vegetation cleared next to the path between Argyle and Amos streets, and is well patrolled by police.

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The forum was an informative and timely initiative by the CMRC, and was well-attended an appreciated by participants.

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