ACT crisis workers advocate ‘whole-of-community’ response to domestic violence

May 24, 2016

stop domestic violenceCanberra’s crisis workers have called for a “whole-of-community” response to the scourge of family and domestic violence, while urging the ACT government to swiftly implement much-needed systemic reforms to help victims of abuse.

Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT executive director Mirjana Wilson said three significant reports into the territory’s response to family violence, released on Friday, drove home remarkably similar themes when it came to gaps in the ACT’s approach.

“They each highlight the need to collaborate, the need to integrate, the need to share information and keep accurate records and the need for a whole-of-government response,” Ms Wilson said.

“As a frontline specialist service provider I’ll be waiting in anticipation to see which of the recommendations are implemented and how and I would call on the government to provide tangible timeframes so we can actually start implementing some of these recommendations.”

Ms Wilson, who worked closely on the review into domestic and family violence deaths, said many of the 11 victims examined did not reach out to a crisis service before they died – a finding which highlighted a desperate need for education and training across a range of sectors.

“There are other touch points in the system, the health system in particular, where people don’t feel either confident enough or they’re not aware enough, or they’re not resourced, to deal with it or to refer it on.”

The review also revealed “an interesting lack of understanding” that domestic violence was not just about physical violence, which drastically impacted the ability of victims, loved ones and service providers to identify, report or pick up on abuse, Ms Wilson said.

It showed a need for targeted awareness-raising to show domestic violence referred to “a whole range of coercive, controlling behaviours” that were complex and not limited to physical abuse.

“Our criminal justice system is geared to recognise physical violence, sexual violence, property damage, as opposed to economic abuse or emotional and psychological trauma.

“Even with domestic violence orders you actually have to prove a risk to physical safety, or of harm to your pets, or property damage. What we’ve learned in the death review is it’s a much deeper story. To read more click here.

The 2016 Stop Domestic Violence Conference will be held on 5 – 7 December at the Mercure Hotel in Brisbane. To express your interest in the 2016 Conference CLICK HERE.

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