Public libraries around Victoria showed their support for Respect Victoria’s campaign to coincide with the United Nations (UN) initiative 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, 25 November – 10 December 2020, with activities including targeted Story Time, highlighting books in collections that promote gender equality and challenge gender stereotypes, public talks and other forms of awareness raising and support.

Example of book recommendations linking campaign goals to books in the YPRL collection

Yarra Plenty Regional Library delivered a comprehensive suite of online content to support the focus of their three member councils in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. They invited people to a special online Storytime for children to hear tales about gender equality, respect and healthy relationships. These gender equality Storytime sessions were live streamed on the YPRL Facebook page. While social media tiles with generic messaging from the campaign were provided, YPRL created their own marketing campaign, which linked the campaign goals with relevant items in their collection. The YPRL Facebook page, twitter and Instagram buzzed with daily social media tiles suggesting relevant books to read grouped by topics such as ‘financial independence for women’ and ‘women in the workplace’. YPRL also created tailored book lists about gender equality for childrenyoung adults and adults, which were distributed by each council via flyers and bookmarks. YPRL staff wrote blog posts for the YPRL blog on topics including inspirational women in the local community and respectful relationships, all of which included links back to items from their collection which encouraged patrons to read or watch to learn more. YPRL’s digital approach for 2020 ensured YPRL was able to support the aims of member councils, link the campaign to the local community, and show the library’s dedication to be active in working to end gender based violence.

Snr Constable Toni Chegwin at St Arnaud Library

North Grampians Shire libraries participated in the campaign by running ‘respectful storytime’ sessions in the libraries in Stawell and St Arnaud. In Stawell, Senior Constable Toni Chegwin from the Proactive Policing Unit was the guest storyteller, reading the book Kindness Makes Us Strong by Sophie Beer.

West Gippsland Libraries created displays in their branches highlighting books that promote gender equality, sharing these resources on social media channels over the lifespan of the campaign. In partnership with Manna Gum Community Centre, West Gippsland Libraries produced two dedicated online Story Time sessions, which were shared with local Early Years centres and kindergartens. Story Time presenter Lisa received permission from author Nelly Thomas to read her fabulous book Some Girls in the first Story Time (watch here). The second session focused on the theme that differences in people and communities are what makes the world a special and interesting place, with a reading of I am perfectly designed by Karamo Brown (watch here).

West Gippsland Libraries team members also participated in Walk Against Family Violence on 25 November. With libraries situated all over Gippsland, this year they were unable to walk together but each WGL team member participated in their own way. They walked with family, friends and 4 legged friends, and wore orange in the branches to show their support. They shared these images and messages via their social media channels and received a very positive response from their community.

Melton City Libraries delivered a range of programs, focusing on women, their legal rights, and their place in our society as part of the campaign, including 16 Days of Activism surprise book packs for patrons to borrow themed on ‘Women in the front.’ They hosted an expert talk with Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre to learn more about rights, laws and available legal help against gender-based violence; and an author talk with journalist and author, Jess Hill.  Investigative journalist and Stella prize-winner Jess joined the libraries via Zoom to discuss her award winning book, See What you Made Me Do. For little kids, Melton City Libraries also had a special edition of Little STEAMers focusing on women in STEM.

Casey Cardinia Libraries partnered with City of Casey to promote the 16 Days of Activism in their community. Among initiatives was the creation of a 16 Days of Activism Bookmark, featuring the message ‘Respect is…Choosing books that promote gender equality’ and including the campaign hashtags #respect is #callitout  #16dayscampaign. The bookmarks provided contact details on the reverse for support for people experiencing family violence. They were placed in Home Delivery Boxes, on library counters, and in Click and Collect bags of library materials.

CCL also presented a virtual storytime as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, with staff member Naomi reading picture books that challenged gender stereotypes and promote inclusion and respect. These were livestreamed on the Casey Cardina Libraries Facebook and YouTube Channel.

CCLs also promoted the key messages of the 16 Days of Activism on their Facebook page, publicising the special CCL storytime, as well as City of Casey’s  guest speaker Natasha Stott Despoja, the founding chair of Our Watch, which took place on 25 November.

Frankston City Libraries and Frankston City Council teamed up with Frankston Mornington Peninsula Primary Care Partnership, South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA), Zonta Club of Melbourne’s South East and Chisholm Institute Frankston to campaign for 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. On 25 November, Frankston City Libraries hosted a FrankTALK with Ruth Clare, author of the award winning memoir, Enemy, speaking on the nature of resilience, hope as an attitude not an emotion, and the way to effectively manage negative thinking (view here).

Staff member Pia Frisby at the Sir John Gorton Library in Kerang

Gannawarra Shire Council in northern Victoria participated in the statewide event through a number of initiatives, one of which was to encourage Council staff, including library staff, to wear the orange campaign T-shirts bearing the slogan, ‘Victoria Against Violence.’

At Whitehorse Manningham Libraries, as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, author and freelance writer Bri Lee: Eggshell Skull (2018), Beauty (2019) and Brains (2021) was ‘In Conversation’ online in a live Q&A session on 9 Dec. Bri’s debut book, the fierce memoir Eggshell Skull offers a first-person account of her year as a judge’s associate in the District Court of Queensland bearing witness to sexual-assault cases; it eventually compelled her to lodge her own claim against her childhood abuser. Eggshell Skull examines the justice system and its treatment of survivors of abuse firsthand, and the talk was a chance to hear Bri’s reflections on how to bring about systemic change to end gender-based violence.

In addition to this public program, Whitehorse Manningham Library staff undertook Active Bystander “Call it Out” training  delivered by Women’s Health East.

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