Everyone has a right to live free from harassment, fear, violence and abuse. Family violence is unacceptable.
It has complex cultural and systemic causes which our community must urgently address, but we must first and foremost acknowledge that family violence is gendered.
Gender inequality and harmful attitudes towards women underlie the vast majority of incidents of family violence. Family violence is most commonly carried out by men against women in intimate partner relationships. Women made up 75% of the victims of intimate partner homicides between 2002 and 2012.
Family violence may include physical or sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, economic abuse, threats, coercion, and controlling behaviours that cause a family member to fear for their or another’s safety and wellbeing. It affects heterosexual and same-sex relationships, and is often perpetrated against children, disabled and elderly family members. Still, around 95% of all victims of all types of violence - irrespective of gender - experience violence from a male perpetrator.
Of all the states and territories, Victoria is well-positioned to undertake ground-breaking reforms on family violence. The state government initiated the Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2015, with strong support from the Victorian Greens. The final report was delivered in March 2016.
The state government accepted all of the recommendations and committed $1.9 billion in the 2017/18 state budget to implement these changes. There is still much more work to be done to fully implement these recommendations and address systemic violence against women. We also need to give people who work in family violence better security and stability.
There is also much more that can be done to prevent family violence
We need to start by addressing toxic masculinity in our culture and transforming the attitudes and behaviour of male perpetrators to all women. The Royal Commission made a number of recommendations that will address harmful attitudes towards women. Both the Liberals and Labor are pushing a ‘tough on crime’ agenda, but this agenda doesn’t prevent family violence. More than one third of domestic violence perpetrators are repeat offenders. Our justice system needs to focus on prevention, and on rehabilitation to stop reoffending.
Survivors also need better access to support
Many survivors of family violence currently face little choice but to leave their home, sometimes taking children or other family members with them. As a result, one third of people accessing homelessness services are escaping family violence. Many survivors are not able to access public housing when they need it. Children who are exposed to family violence also need to have safe and appropriate care to heal from trauma and lead healthy and productive lives. Finally, our mental health system is struggling, and many survivors of family violence may be unable to access the mental health care they need.
The Greens plan will:
- Ensure that all 227 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence are properly implemented.
- Work with the family violence sector to secure longer contracts and grants to provide stability and security for people engaged in this vital work.
- Build 40,000 new and refurbished public housing homes to eradicate the public housing waiting list.
- Establish an Independent Centre for Justice Reinvestment and expand programs that prevent all forms of criminal offending and reoffending.
- Provide an additional $132m for legal assistance, including long-term funding for Community Legal Centres to assist survivors of family violence.
- Restore funding to community mental health services, so that survivors can access the support they need.
- Ensure measures to reduce family violence address risks for migrant, refugee and newly arrived women on precarious visa conditions.