Self-defence: Optus partners with Odine’s Martial Arts Centre to help break the cycle of DV and bullying

Jacinta CantatoreSouth Western Times
Dojo member Nic Baldwin shows Optus WA general manager Paul O’Neill some of the skills from the classes.
Camera IconDojo member Nic Baldwin shows Optus WA general manager Paul O’Neill some of the skills from the classes. Credit: Jacinta Cantatore

A martial arts class aimed at helping domestic violence survivors feel mentally and physically empowered will continue to be offered for free thanks to a partnership with a national telco.

Class creators Gary Odine and Jenni Rintoul from Odine’s Martial Arts Centre have been offering free self-defence classes to South West women and children who have been affected by domestic abuse and school bullying.

On hearing about the classes, Optus regional WA general manager Paul O’Neill said he wanted to find a way to help keep the classes free for all women, no matter what their circumstances.

“WA is experiencing the highest rate of reported family and domestic violence-related assault offences against women,” he said.

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“It’s about empowering women and children to help them feel safe and protected.

“By equipping women with the self-defence skills they need through workshops like those offered at Odine’s, we hope that together we can help stop the cycle of domestic violence-related assault offences against women.”

The classes, which run every Wednesday at 11.30am for women and from 4.30pm on Fridays for children, are focused on empowerment, practical self-defence techniques, and improving the mental health of people who have experienced trauma.

Centre owner and class co-creator Mr Odine said bullying in schools was “out of control” in the South West.

“Every (child) that joins up here writes on their enrolment forms ‘bullying’ or ‘want to learn self-defence due to bullying’. It’s so sad,” he said.

He said his former role as a suicide prevention officer had shown him how prevalent this scourge has become in the region’s schools, and the horrific outcomes it could have.

“There are kids that come here who are only six years of age being bullied, or nine years of age contemplating suicide,” he said.

He said some women attending the classes who were victims of domestic violence had said they had had suicidal thoughts.

The program not only aims to help participants feel more confident about protecting themselves, it also gives them a physical outlet for their anger and frustration.

“They come in here and they can forget everything,” Mr Odine said.

“Mental health is a huge part of what the classes can help. We make this a safe place for everybody.”

Mr O’Neil said as a father, he was grateful to know services like that provided by Odine’s were available.

“Knowing there are people like Gary and Jenni in our regional communities offering services like these reminds us of the human connections we can create in regional WA,” he said.

“Knowing there is a safe haven to build confidence and the necessary life skills to be a better version of yourself is so empowering.

“We want people to know there is support out there, beyond family and friends, which will hopefully help them feel the confidence they need to take action and speak up.”

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyondblue 1300 22 4636

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