Family violence is widespread and harmful and affects people from various ages, cultures and levels of income.
Its affects are injuries, death, mental health, breakdown of families and problems with childhood development and adjustment into adolescence.
The Family Violence Protection Act 2008 defines Family Violence as behaviour towards a family member that is
- physically or sexually abusive;
- emotionally or psychologically abusive;
- economically abusive;
- or in any other way controls or dominates the family member.
Where children are present, the children also become victims simply by witnessing the violence. In Banyule in 2013-14, children were present in 37% of reported incidents
Why focus on Preventing Violence against Women?
- Violence from a male to a female partner is the most common form of family violence. In 2013 -14, 74% of victims of Family Violence in Banyule were females.
- In 2013-14, there were on average 24 Family Violence incidents reported each week in Banyule
- Intimate partner violence is the top risk factor for death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 in Victoria and one in three Australian women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime (this includes violence to women in the public arena)
How does it affect women’s health?
There are were many health impacts from violence against women including
- anxiety, depression, brain injury, chronic disability, unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, self-harm and suicide.
- during pregnancy, which is a time of increased risk of assault by a partner, violence may lead to miscarriages, foetal death, and other serious complications.
The broader social and cultural impacts include financial debt, unemployment, family breakdown, homelessness and social isolation. One in three people seeking crisis accommodation in Australia are women escaping family violence
How can the community help to prevent family violence?
- reporting violence to Police by calling 000 if you see or hear it happening.
- modelling good behaviour – modelling respectful relationships, being firm that violence is not acceptable and that men do not need to control or dominate women
- offering support to anyone who is being abused, for example, staying with them while they make contact with services and simply listening to them
- talking to others about family violence and not making the topic taboo
- wearing a white ribbon and supporting community efforts to inform the public about this issue
What is council doing?
Council’s priority is to raise community awareness about the issue and send a strong message that violence is not ok.
A White Ribbon Action Team which includes members from various Council units fosters a culture of respect and understanding of the issue in the workplace. They coordinate Council’s annual White Ribbon event seek and seek opportunities to implement primary prevention actions in their own work.
The Workplace Family Violence Policy adopted by Council in 2011 recognises that staff members may require additional leave because of family violence occurring in their home. Its delivery has seen Managers trained in Identifying Family Violence to prepare them for any disclosures from their staff.
An annual White Ribbon event is held in the community to raise awareness, with a walk against violence and speakers from Police and other organisations.
Spreading the message of safety and respect resources are displayed in Maternal and Child Health Centres, providing information to new parents as an early intervention initiative
Staff donations to local services with funds raised on theme days at Council.
Coordination of a network for external agencies, to ensure coordinated service delivery across multiple agencies who come into contact with victims of family violence.
Where to get support for victims of Family Violence
Councils supplies Help Cards for both Women and Men with help seeking information at its Customer Service Centres and encourages them to be available at other key community organisations.