Victoria mobilises around family violence in lead-up to state election

family violence rally Sept 2014Between 2012 and 2013, almost 50% of Victoria’s murders were family violence related. Intimate partner violence perpetrated by men is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness for Victorian women aged 15 to 44 years.  And one woman is killed almost every week in Australia by a current or former intimate partner.

In light of these damning statistics, Victorians are mobilising. On the 25th of August, a coalition of legal and advocacy groups called for family violence to be front and centre in the lead-up to the November state election.

At the launch of the No More Deaths campaign (pictured), representatives laid 29 red roses and eight white rosebuds on the steps of the Victorian parliament in memory of women and children killed as a result of family violence last year.

Fiona McCormack (CEO, Domestic Violence Victoria) noted that “We need action on a scale that we have never seen before, and, yes, we need a major injection of funds. But it’s not just about money, it’s about leadership and accountability”.

Amongst the campaign’s demands is a call for family violence units, staffed by victim support workers and specialist advocates, to be established in every Victorian court. It is also calling for improved court safety for women, an issue we’ve highlighted locally, particularly in relation to Kyneton Magistrates’ Court. (In July, Attorney-General Robert Clark replied to our concerns and noted improvements to the court’s security cameras and the review being undertaken by Court Services Victoria into court facilities.)

If you are on Twitter, you can follow the campaign via #nomoreFVdeaths

On the same day as No More Deaths was launched, the Federation of Community Legal Centres facilitated an election strategy workshop to help prepare representatives from community legal centres and family violence and men’s behaviour change agencies. The workshop helped participants to take consistent and locally targeted messages about Victoria’s family violence system to state MPs and pre-selected candidates.

This month also saw the launch of Our Watch, a campaign by the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and Their Children that aims to stop violence before it happens. This campaign (hashtag #onourwatch) is promoting a nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that underpin and create violence against women and children.

On 11 September, the Domestic Violence Resource Centre (a specialist community legal centre) is hosting What does it take? This Melbourne Town Hall forum will include a panel discussion and workshop. Guest speakers will include Mhairi McGowan (ASSIST and Domestic Abuse Services, Community Safety, Glasgow) and Professor Cathy Humphreys (University of Melbourne).

From 7-9 October, Women’s Health Loddon Mallee is presenting Violence Prevention: it’s everybody’s business. This Bendigo conference aims to catalyse action to eliminate violence against women and to raise awareness of violence prevention approaches. The conference will present personal stories that will illustrate the impact of violence on women’s lives. Speakers will explore the character of violence against women in our communities and primary prevention approaches.

Keynote speakers include Chief Police Commissioner Ken Lay, Phil Cleary, Dr Gael Jennings, Paul Linossier (CEO, Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and Children), Mallika Dutt (founder, Breakthrough). Other speakers and panellists will include Margaret Augerinos (Centre for Non-Violence), Fiona McCormack (CEO, Domestic Violence Victoria) and Rose Batty.

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