Vic 10-Year Plan for Ending Family Violence ‘Momentous’
Thursday, 24th November 2016 at 2:42 pm
The not-for-profit sector has strongly supported the Victorian Government’s newly announced 10-year plan for ending family violence.
The plan details how the government will deliver the 227 recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Victoria’s peak welfare advocacy body, the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), described the government’s 10-year Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s Plan for Change as “momentous” and a step toward achieving genuine systemic change.
VCOSS CEO Emma King said the plan was a profound moment for the state.
“The plan sets out the vision for a Victoria where family violence and gender inequality are not tolerated. It seeks to address root causes of family violence – such as gender inequality and rigid gender roles – and exacerbating factors like mental health and substance abuse,” King said.
“It is essential everyone feels safe to report family violence and has access to meaningful support. And it’s just as critical perpetrators are held accountable – with interventions and support services in place to confront poor attitudes and behaviours before re-offending occurs.”
King said VCOSS was pleased the plan was deliberately inclusive of all ages, cultures, faiths, sexualities and genders.
“Family violence does not discriminate. We know women with disability, Aboriginal women, older women and women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are vulnerable to family violence. They also experience complex barriers to seeking help, which our system can do more to address.”
She said the community sector and violence survivors have been instrumental in helping to design the plan.
“No-one knows better the change that is needed than those who have experienced the physical, mental and emotional trauma of family violence. We are grateful for their strong involvement,” she said.
King said the plan recognised that the approach to ending family violence must be one of partnership between the sector, community and government.
“Improving service responsiveness, integration and accessibility cannot be achieved by only one organisation. Underpinning the attitude of rights and respect for everyone cannot be achieved by just one individual,” she said.
The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CECFW) said the plan meant that women and children at risk of family violence would have better access to early interventions, a better coordinated social services and justice system, and more support from schools, maternal health services, child health services and public hospitals.
“This announcement reinforces Victoria’s place as a leader in child and family services, and it sits alongside the government’s Roadmap for Reform in creating services that are coordinated and work together to meet the needs of vulnerable families and children,” CECFW CEO Deb Tsorbaris said.
The plan commits to:
- establish a network of support and safety hubs across Victoria, where victim survivors can access the support they need to stay safe
- recruit new specialist family violence workers to support women and their children access services they need to stay safe and get back on their feet
- invest a further $218 million in social housing and private rental assistance, bringing housing investment to $600 million since the royal commission report
- strengthen intervention orders, tighten up the bail process and allow for the better sharing of information so a victim’s right to safety isn’t trumped by a perpetrator’s right to privacy
- provide specialist training to Victoria Police officers who play a critical role in responding to family violence and upgrade courts to provide greater security for victim survivors
- initiate a primary prevention strategy, alongside a state-wide behavioural change campaign, to help stop family violence happening in the first place.
Tsorbaris said the reforms would require government to transform the way it works with a number of new bodies being created such as a coordination agency which will oversee the operation of the support and safety hubs, a prevention agency focusing on providing advice on best practice, a Centre for Workforce Excellence and the Victorian Centre for Data Insights to build new capabilities to analyse data to protect families at risk.
The Council to Homelessness Persons (CHP) said a key component of the 10-year plan was the additional resources to improve access to housing to prevent homelessness in women and children fleeing family violence.
“Family violence is the number one driver of homelessness because there are so few safe, affordable accommodation options for women who flee their home,” CHP CEO Jenny Smith said.
“It is gratifying to see housing given prominence in the government’s plan to tackle family violence because we all want to see a future where Victorians are safe, thriving and live free from family violence.”
She said in 2015 one-in-three people presenting at homelessness services cited family violence as the main reason for their homelessness.
“We were very pleased to see that the 10-year family violence plan includes $185 million to redevelop ageing public housing estates, and generate an increase of 10 per cent in social housing stock on those estates,” Smith said.
“An additional $33 million of new funding was also announced to extend private rental brokerage programs providing rapid rehousing for women and children fleeing family violence.
“With better access to housing that is safe and affordable, we hope that one day no-one will have to choose between staying in violence and becoming homeless.”