Stopping it at the Start

Kylie Travers and family.

As Queensland marks Domestic Violence Protection Month local resident Kylie Travers tells her story to Noosa Today.

In 2015 I was a finalist for Young Australian of the Year in the ACT for my work in dedicating myself to ending homelessness and domestic violence. At the time I had recently left a violent relationship and faced homelessness with my two young daughters. Having faced this heartache, that far too many Australian women are familiar with, I am confident in the knowledge that respect is our greatest tool against domestic violence, and hence something I strive to teach and model every day.

Today, my life is a far cry from where it was nine years ago. I live in Noosa with my partner Justin and our beautiful blended, multicultural family of three daughters and a son. We are in many ways a typical Australian family, and like so many others in our community, the glue that holds us together is respect.

This Domestic Violence Prevention Month I’m a proud advocate of the Australian Government’s Stop it at the Start campaign. It’s a national campaign that aims to empower adults to role model respectful behaviours, call out disrespect when they see it, and start a conversation about respect with the young people in their lives. Whether you’re a mum, a dad (step parents included), a teacher, or grandparent, the opportunity to positively impact a child’s life by modelling what it means to be a kind and respectful person is monumental, and it can start with a simple conversation.

One small action we take in our home is the practice of ‘private conversations’. That is, at any moment, in any room, or situation, our children can say, “Mum I need a private conversation”, or “Dad can I please have a private word”. All other members of the family know at this time to leave the space, providing an environment for open and honest conversation. For us, this practice allows us to create safe spaces with our children to discuss their concerns and in turn have meaningful conversations with them about respect. Outside of the home, this action has translated to our children feeling comfortable raising their concerns when they see moments of disrespect, knowing their perspective is valued.

Instilling respect in children requires both words and actions. Private conversations are an active moment in our day where we can make a difference and discuss the importance of mutual compassion with our children. However, there are thousands of other little moments in each day where you can also make a significant impact. Whether it’s calling out disrespect on the sidelines of a sports game, modelling respect in my own relationship, or discussing online behaviour and boundaries with my children, I know, every step towards respect is a step in the right direction.

Despite how my life has changed over the years, my dedication to ending the cycle of abuse has not waned. Outside of the home I work every day to support the eradication of family violence, however, it is the conversations and actions I take in the home which I know make the greatest difference.

Each May, Queensland marks Domestic Violence Prevention Month and I encourage you to mark it by thinking about the small moments in your life you can use to teach respect to the next generation, whether through actions or words. Let’s work together to Stop it at the Start.