What Does it Take to End Family Violence Deaths?
Thursday, 11th September 2014 at 9:51 am
Victoria’s leading experts in family violence will gather to examine what needs to be done to prevent the deaths of women and children due to family violence at a public forum today.
In a Victorian first, the What does it take? forum, organised by the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, will bring together family violence specialists, academics, public servants, child protection and police to share their insights and experience on what keeps women and children safe.
It comes as the entire Hunt family, including Kim and Geoff and their children Fletcher, 10, Mia, eight, and Phoebe, six, were found dead at their Lockhart farm in New South Wales as the result of an apparent murder-suicide on Tuesday.
The small community, located near Wagga Wagga, has been shocked by their deaths.
“Victorians are rightly concerned about the number of family violence deaths in this state,” Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Virginia Geddes, said.
“There were 29 family violence related homicides in Victoria in 2012/13 and police family violence incident reports continue to rise, with over 60,000 reports during that period."
Geddes said the purpose of the forum was to discuss the best and worst practices used in the protection of victims of family violence.
“The public and political awareness of family violence deaths has never been higher, yet our approaches to deal with this critical issue are inconsistent and leave too many women and children at serious ongoing risk of harm and death,” she said.
“There are good practices and there are poor practices and it is absolutely essential that we put in place the right measures that will be most effective at keeping women and children safe.
“It’s better for everyone if we learn now rather than in the Coroners Court.
“Violent perpetrators are slipping off the radar because of lack action and information is not being shared across the system. We must do better at identifying and responding to high risk. We need a high quality consistent response across the state.
“If we are serious about stemming the tide of family violence Victoria must learn from and adopt some of the best practice approaches from across Australia and around the world.”
International expert Mhairi McGowan from ASSIST, Glasgow will address the forum about how agencies in Scotland have worked in dynamic partnerships to identify risk, share information and hold perpetrators accountable.
Through a partnership process between ASSIST and Police Scotland that targets high-risk perpetrators, initial figures show a decrease in repeat victimisation from 65 per cent to 37 per cent.
“The forum is a great opportunity to learn how we can do better to prevent family violence deaths at a time when the state government is planning to rollout new risk management projects across Victoria,” Geddes said.
“Family violence is now being taken seriously in Victoria. Finally, family violence is an election issue.”
The forum will highlight issues raised in the recently launched No More Deaths campaign which brings together Victoria’s leading family violence organisations to call on the state’s political parties to commit to wide-ranging policies across housing, justice police, health education and other portfolios to keep women and children safe in Victoria.