Complaints to the Sydney Anti-Violence Project (AVP) more than doubled last financial year, last week’s ACON annual general meeting was told.

In 2010/11 there were 173 reports of violence made to the AVP, compared to 80 the previous financial year.

ACON CEO Nick Parkhill (pictured) said it was unclear whether there had been a rise in homophobic violence or whether more people were reporting incidents.

“It’s hard to say what it is definitively,” Parkhill said. “But this year in partnership with NSW police we did run the Speak Up campaign which really encouraged people to speak up about violence and to report it to police because we know there is resistance to doing that.

“People are nervous around it so we put a really concentrated effort into the Speak Up campaign, so that could have shifted that as well. But it could also be things about the general environment of Oxford St and its continuing issues, although there has been quite a lot of police resourcing going into that as well under the leadership of [Superintendent] Donna Adney.”

In the same period ACON’s face-to-face Indigenous client base halved.

Parkhill said ACON had reoriented its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program towards population-wide efforts, meaning one-to-one face-to-face interactions had dropped while the organisation was now reaching more people with health messages in Indigenous communities.

“It’s now much more of a population-level intervention,” Parkhill said.

“The resources that we have to do this program, rather than all going into one-to-one counselling, which is limited in terms of its reach, has been reorientated so we can run more campaigns and do more education so that it impacts at a population level rather than a one-to-one level.

“That’s part of the reason that you see that a drop in service provision in this particular group, but we’ve also had some internal staffing issues in relation to that.”

Indigenous clients being counselled one-on-one fell from 129 in 2009/2010 to 62 in 2010/2011, although client interactions only fell from 3935 to 3837.

However, the organisation distributed seven times the number of safe-sex packs to Indigenous communities in 2010/2011 than it did in 2009/2010.

Meanwhile, Mark Orr, Jeremy Hutton, Garrett Prestage, Wes Bas, Lee O’Dwyer, Senthorun Raj and Mitchell Gordon were elected to the ACON board unopposed.

Two changes to the constitution were passed unanimously — that candidates for board elections be nominated and seconded by members, and that the ACON CEO not be included in half-board elections.

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