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Catholic Social Services Victoria welcomes Royal Commission report on family violence

If the commitment of the Victorian community and political leaders stays strong, we may just see a Victoria free of family violence…..

Today the Victorian Royal Commission into family violence released its report and recommendations, after a 13-month inquiry.  The Commission thanked the more than 200 people and organisations who gave evidence, made submissions, and attended discussions.  In a statement prior to the release of the report, the Commissioner, Marcia Neave thanked all those who gave evidence, noting that “Many of those who contributed to our work have been directly or indirectly affected by family violence and we thank them for their courage and insight.”

Catholic Social Services Victoria welcomed the Royal Commission, the first in Australia to consider this important issue.   The Terms of Reference asked the Commission to make recommendations on how Victoria, through its community and government services, should prevent and respond to family violence.   This complex issue called for the mix of credibility, deep consideration, research and public consultation a Royal Commission could give.

The Royal Commission has recommended a whole of community, and bipartisan whole of government response.  There are 227 specific recommendations, 

·         Addressing the barriers to accessing services faced particularly by Aboriginal women, and those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.  A core part of this will be the establishment of support and safety hubs across the state.  These will be ‘walk in’ services for victims of family violence and their children, connecting them to the services needed for safety and support.

·         Focusing on perpetrators, so that victims are not on their own in protecting themselves and their children.  This would include both greatly increased support services for those perpetrators who are seeking to change, and laws to allow information sharing so that ‘privacy does not trump safety’.  A centralized agency would be established to share information about perpetrators with police, courts, family violence services and the safety hubs.

·         Focusing on children, ‘the silent victims of family violence’.   A greater focus on protecting children, as victims in their own right. Greater access to intensive therapeutic counseling, and other supports for children.   Services where needed to restore the mother-child bond, which is often damaged by family violence.   

·         A blitz on housing, so that women and children ‘stuck’ in crisis and short term housing are immediately rehoused.  The Commission found that there is an urgent need to address the lack of housing, and recommended the establishment of a task force to assess the amount of social housing needed.

·         Greater resourcing of police and courts, who have responded to increased demand without additional funding. Specialist family violence courts to be set up across the state.  Police will be given powers and resources to make needed changes.

The full report can be accessed http://www.rcfv.com.au

The report has been described as ‘comprehensive and pragmatic’ by Domestic Violence Victoria, the peak body for family violence services in Victoria. Many of those directly affected by the family violence and those working in the field have hailed this as a significant day, as the reality of family violence is exposed and a comprehensive plan is put forward.

The Premier, Daniel Andrews MP has pledged to implement every recommendation.  We welcome this commitment and applaud his leadership on this issue.

The breadth and depth of change needed and the funding required is significant.  This may take some years (and electoral cycles), but if the commitment of the Victorian community and political leaders stays strong, we can continue to build momentum towards a violence free Victoria.





 
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