Domestic violence prevention advocate Conor Pall ‘won’t stop fighting’ for children amid national crisis

Domestic violence prevention advocate Conor Pall ‘won’t stop fighting’ for children amid national crisis
  • PublishedMay 24, 2024

Conor Pall is eloquent, whip-smart and unquestionably passionate.

This month, the 20-year-old from Mildura in Victoria’s Mallee met Premier Jacinta Allan to discuss his lived experience of domestic violence, a scourge blighting the country.

But behind Mr Pall’s confidence is a vulnerability.

From a young age, domestic violence plagued his life.

“Home wasn’t a safe place for me,” he said.

“For years I lived between two houses.

“Only one ever felt like a home.”

Excluded from family violence orders

A man in dark polo, dark features with hands out wide mid speech.
Conor Pall launching his new children’s book, The Shadow That Follows. (Supplied: Conor Pall)

Mr Pall said he never felt heard when he attended court with his mother when she was applying for family violence intervention orders.

“The magistrate looked at me and asked, ‘How old are you?’

“Seventeen, I replied.

“He then informed me that kids did not need to be present at these kinds of proceedings and asked that I be removed from the courtroom.

“I was never really seen, or spoken to by the magistrate, as a victim in my own right.”

A man with dark features, smiling at two young boys while crouching at their level
Conor Pall wants to empower children and young people. (Supplied: Conor Pall )

Earlier this year, the Victorian Victims of Crime Commission released a report called Silenced and Sidelined, which found that the justice system was not always safe and accessible for younger victims.

“For children and young people, not being able to access the justice system safely, and not being aware of options, were barriers to participation,” the report said.

“A key theme in relation to barriers for children and young people was children’s sense of ‘invisibility’, lack of agency and lack of opportunity for meaningful participation.”

Harnessing lived experience for advocacy

A 2023 Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS) found young people aged 16 to 24 reported high rates of emotional abuse and exposure to domestic violence.

Mr Pall doesn’t want other children and young people to feel like their voices are not being listened to.

At 17, he joined Victoria’s Youth Parliament and began campaigning for political change, which included debating mock legislation around domestic abuse.

Now 20, he has written a book for children about the power of overcoming adversity, is an advisor to the Victorian government on domestic violence, and works for the Commission for Children and Young People — a non-governmental body that promotes the improvement of policies and practices that affect the safety and wellbeing of young Victorians.

“I’m using my experiences as a male survivor [of family violence] to make change in the family violence system,” he said.

“I never really saw any young people, and particularly young men, talking about family violence.

“I wanted to use my experience to make sure that no other young person would have to suffer in silence, as myself and too many victim survivors, are forced to do.”

Young people need to be ‘centre’ of change

Youth Affairs Council of Victoria’s head of rural, Derm Ryan, said in terms of family violence reforms, it was crucial to hear from young people with lived experience.

Man with grey hair smiles open mouthed smile while standing in front of green tree leaves
Derm Ryan from the Youth Affairs Council says young people are too often neglected from decision-making processes.  (Supplied: Derm Ryan)

“What we’re talking about is trying to change a culture,” Mr Ryan said.

“Young people and children need to be a centrepiece of that.

“We see that again and again, where young people are not included in decision-making.”

Mr Pall said systemic failures fuelled his passion for his work.

“I won’t stop fighting until we all adequately recognise and act upon children and young people’s unique experiences of family violence, as victim-survivors in their own right,” he said.

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

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