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Domestic and Family Violence Prevention is In the Spotlight

by PeakCare Qld on 5th May 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> May -> Domestic and Family Violence Prevention is In the Spotlight

May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month. In our state too many women are harmed or die at the hands of their partners or former partners. In our state we have declared that we’re not ever going to tolerate such abuse and violence again.

In 2015 the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, as Chair of the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence, released the Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland report to the Premier, the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk MP with 140 recommendations to ensure change for victims of domestic and family violence. The recommendations, accepted in full by the Queensland government, set the direction for the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Strategy for Queensland. This is a framework for change aimed at eradicating domestic and family violence whilst also highlighting this issue as the responsibility of all Queenslanders.

Across Queensland, in workplaces, schools, sporting clubs, neighbourhoods and communities, individuals and groups are taking up the challenge to put an end to domestic and family violence. The Queensland government in bi-partisan agreement with the Opposition and in unison with community organisations across the state are joining together to ensure that all in the community play a role in changing the culture and attitudes that underpin violence.

Micah Project’s Brisbane Domestic Violence Service is clear about the many changes that have occurred to improve the lives of women and children in Queensland of late. Belinda Cox, Community and Partnerships Program Manager states:

“There are so many positive changes since the implementation process of the Not Now, Not Ever Report recommendations began. We’re optimistic about the difference we can make in holistically supporting women and their children who have experienced or are experiencing domestic and family violence. The proposed structural changes are exciting, as is the standardised risk assessment tool currently being developed. The integrated response trials also pose a great opportunity to genuinely respond to women and children. We’re aiming for a system where support is immediate and risk is mitigated. Domestic violence prevention month is part of this significant endeavour. It’s a month to really enhance public education and dispel some myths by sharing the real issues and facts of domestic and family violence far and wide across the state”.

So what is domestic and family violence? This abuse occurs when one person in a relationship uses violence or abuse to maintain power and control over the other person. Domestic and family violence is usually an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling a partner through fear.

Queensland is determined to end this scourge, as Dame Quentin Bryce so aptly named it. The changes since the Not Now, Not Ever report was handed down have been rapid and immense. For one, Minister Shannon Fentiman is now the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, a significant and additional role which blends with her other responsibilities. Further to naming a specific Minister for this important cause, Queensland has funded: a 72 hour refuge, a 24 hour mobile outreach service, programs for those who have perpetrated violence, support for children and young people through counselling as well as a significant investment in public education to ensure that key messages of domestic and family violence are shared and myths are debunked. Furthermore, the new law of strangulation has been passed. The Not Now, Not Ever report noted the concern of strangulation as a precursor to ongoing violence, abuse and murder. The government recently passed Laws that make non-fatal strangulation and suffocation a new, separate offence in Queensland in a bipartisan move to reduce domestic violence: "The new offence reflects that this sort of violence is not only inherently dangerous, but is predictive of an escalation in domestic violence offending, including homicide," Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said.

Dame Quentin Bryce, a long term advocate for the safety and wellbeing of women and children was clear in her report that she aimed for change and that change needed to be meaningful. Change in this state has started. As we celebrate Domestic and Family Violence Month and the work that has occurred thus far, we also need to remain committed to ensuring that the change continues to build in its momentum. This is a long term plan to which the sector, government, community and business are committed and integral in ensuring its success. The aim is that all involved work together for change in both the short and long term to ensure change is powerful and permanent.

Earlier this week, May 3rd, the Honourable Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence wrote a piece for the Courier Mail whereby she detailed her experience of attending a mandated program for men who have perpetrated violence. She noted: “They were ordinary men – no common theme between them. Work boots on one, expensive tailored suit on another. A variety of different professions which underscored that domestic and family violence doesn’t discriminate – rich or poor doesn’t make a blind bit of difference. One man was 18. One was in his 50s. All of them were pretty angry. Anger about what their partners did to antagonise them, that their partner had called the police on them, some suggesting they even liked jail to be away from their partner. Alarming attitudes clearly shared by some of their fellow participants, who were nodding sagely.”

Minister Fentiman then noted the expertise of the professional at the helm of this program: “The course facilitator expertly challenged views during the discussion around the theme of ‘Minimising, denying and blame versus accountability and respect’. I heard a lot of the first part. As I sat, I heard such deeply ingrained misogyny that I struggled to hold the poker face that was mandatory to attend the session.”

She further added: “It would be easy to fall into despair about this but the thing was, no matter how angry they were, they were still there. They kept coming. They kept learning.”

Minister Fentiman then concluded: “Perpetrator programs are historically underfunded and the jury is certainly mixed about their impact – but I left still determined that they have to be part of the mix. We can’t just have shelters, or counselling to help broken women, without acting to try to stop the man behind this violence. Rehabilitation is a long road and not all of these men are necessarily going to stay on it, but we have to keep trying. Why? Because it might change their lives and it might save someone else’s.”

In her final statement she sums up the reason for domestic and family violence prevention month, the Not Now, Not Ever report and the plethora of efforts in Queensland to combat domestic and family violence – to save lives. To do whatever is needed in the community, across the state and with everyone who is prepared to be a partner. Queensland says, “Not now, not ever to domestic and family violence”. It needs to stop and we all need to work collectively to ensure its cessation. With government, community and business all working together, these are optimistic times for those who are determined to end domestic and family violence in Queensland.

For further information go to:

Trust your instincts

Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month

Not Now, Not Ever Campaign

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