Zero tolerance needed to end scourge of domestic and family violence
Throughout May, we recognise Domestic Violence Prevention Month, an annual event where we shine a spotlight on the social and personal impact of domestic and family violence, how to identify and respond to it, and to highlight the supports available to those affected.
For many of us, it may be unthinkable that domestic and family violence (DFV) could be happening in our neighbourhood. But in reality, the scourge is likely to have reached almost every suburb in Australia. More than a third of Australian women report experiencing at least one form of violence from a known male partner during their lifetime.
In 2017, abusive or controlling behaviours in Australian households are still far too common. It can happen to anybody. Emotional, financial and physical abuse can affect people of all ages and background. It has a dreadful and lasting impact on individuals and communities – often for generations to come.
In fact, domestic and family violence is a leading reason Australian women and children fall into homelessness, and end up reaching out to community services and crisis accommodation for help.
Our frontline staff see and deal with the damaging after effects of family violence every day. We are seeing it unfold first-hand, as the number of people fleeing dangerous home situations continues to climb.
As the statistics and stream of media reports of brutal domestic murders and attacks continue to show us – there is still significant work to be done.
That’s why violence in the home is everyone’s business. A zero tolerance approach should now be entrenched as an enduring part of our national identity. We all have a responsibility to end this epidemic.
Encouragingly, Rosie Batty continues to make major strides in this endeavour. She has sustained her campaign to encourage communities to face up to domestic violence. And as we continue to do at Mission Australia, she advocates for big policy, budget and cultural changes to end the epidemic.
It is of critical importance that we not lose momentum. We must continue our efforts to prevent violence and ensure that there are enough supports available to those who experience domestic and family violence. If we intervene early and continue to invest in programs that work, we can reduce violence and the flow on effects, such as homelessness.
For major change to happen, we need high quality education in schools, greater investment in early intervention, more safe and affordable housing, law and policing reforms, perpetrator programs, coordinated service delivery and significant efforts to boost gender equality.
And for this to work, a collaborative and concerted effort to educate and promote the discussion of family violence must also occur at all levels – by governments, communities, the education system and other organisations.
Please take some time to read the true story from our new Winter campaign, which highlights the stressors faced by parents and children escaping violence in the home. While this violence should never have happened, I am proud that Mission Australia supported the family when they were at their most vulnerable and helped them to escape the cycle of abuse.
If you are experiencing sexual assault or domestic and family violence or seeking help for someone who is, call 1800 RESPECT or visit www.1800respect.org.au.
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