Tragedy fuels campaign fire

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser

A finalist for the 2017 Young Australian of the Year award, Tarang Chawla is visiting Albany this Thursday to share his story at the Family Violence Conference.

After losing his 23-year-old sister Nikita in 2015, Mr Chawla decided to dedicate his life to ending violence against women.

His sister was brutally murdered with a machete by her partner, which led Mr Chawla to become a board member of the Victorian Government’s Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council

He is working to fix cultural attitudes that lead to male violence being a leading cause of death and disability for Australian women under 45.

“This is a problem of our own making, which leads to our loved one falling victim to family violence and we can find a solution together,” Mr Chawla said.

“I never really planned on becoming an advocate — it was driven by the injustice of what happened to (his sister).

“Now I spent a lot of my time working with young women and men around healthy masculinity and emotional resilience, understanding the contributing factors around violence against women.”

Mr Chawla’s loss has inspired many around the nation who have also lost their loved ones because of family violence.

“By unpacking gender roles and giving both women and men the freedom to be themselves rather than live up to false stereotypes, it will create a culture that is more inclusive and more tolerant and accepting,” he said.

“Those rigid gender rules contribute to this violence.”

This year’s Family Violence Conference theme is bystander action.

It will focus on the role that individual people and the broader community can play in responding to the attitudes, beliefs, practices, policies and behaviours that perpetuate violence against women.

Mr Chawla is looking forward to sharing his message on what he calls the “human cost of violence against women” so he can put a face, a story and a human cost to the statistics.

The whole-day conference will be held this Thursday at Centennial Stadium.

Tickets can be bought at Paperbark Merchants, York Street. or online at paperbarks.com.au

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