Dear valued subscriber,
The depth of our appalling family violence record was on show this week. Warrnambool-based support provider Emma House marked its 40th anniversary this week at its annual general meeting. The work of so many over the years has made a difference to many in the most vulnerable of times. But never has its AGM heard numbers like those presented this week.
Women and children seeking help from the service has jumped 60 per cent in the first four months of this financial year compared with the July to October period last year. A staggering 882 victims/survivors turned to Emma House.
That number is incomprehensible.
As a community we are more aware than ever of family violence, even though most of us don't see it or hear it because it happens behind closed doors.
Less than 48 hours after the AGM where the depth of the problem was laid bare, a Warrnambool woman was left fighting for life after a serious assault at her unit.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the woman. We will take some solace when the alleged perpetrator is punished to the full extent of the law. But that is not enough.
The messages promoting change need to be ramped up. Education campaigns need to be promoted even more.
In the words of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw 'progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything'.
The state government this week announced $6 million to improve hands-on training for university students in the family violence sector.
That is a good initiative. Service agencies like Emma House are crying out for more trained professionals. As awareness grows, so too does the demand on services.
The funding is for additional student placements, 150 early and mid-career specialists to grow their careers, establishing a graduate program and TAFEs and other training organisations to equip professionals. Will the funding be enough? Will it stretch to regional areas?
We need every bit of help possible judging by the events of this week.
There were some feel-good stories this week. Warrnambool teenager Jay Rantall was selected by Collingwood with pick 40 in the AFL draft, capping a meteoric rise for the former Australian basketball representative. Rantall is unassuming, ego-less and well-rounded and will be a role model not just for south-west athletes but further afield. Congratulations to him and his family, who deserve every success.
What about 103-year-old Phyliss Hartley's story? She returned to the bowling green a week after her latest birthday. You can read more here.
A low point this week was the death of a UK tourist at Princetown after he went missing last Saturday. The volunteer search effort was incredible, so the discovery of his body on the fourth day was heartbreaking for all involved.
Thankfully the pay dispute is over for Warrnambool City Council workers after a deal was reached on Friday. They will now lift work bans, meaning they will be busy in coming days mowing the untidy median strips and parks, which hurt the city's image.
Is there anything Koroit cannot do? The town's footy club has won the past six Hampden league premierships, its netballers the past three top-grade flags and its Irish Festival gets bigger and bigger. Now the town's business community is booming along with school enrolments.
I hope the picture above from Perry Cho, of Patient Eye Photography, brightens your day. Perry and the team have produced a stunning calendar with all proceeds going to mental health initiative Lets Talk.
It's giveaway time: For your chance to pick up one of five free double passes to see psychic Deb Webber at Warrnambool's City Memorial Bowls Club on December 11, enter here.
Congratulations to Lisa Austin and Adele Griffin who picked up tickets to the Aus DanceSport Championships in Melbourne.
Here's a selection of other stories that made headlines this week.
Until next week