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Prevent family violence. . .

Prevent family violence

By Charlotte Newbold.
Published on the VCOSS Voice on 19 March 2018.

Picture of mother and child

Victoria has led Australia’s response to family violence in recent years.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence was a watershed moment, leading to unprecedented government investment to change the course of women’s, children’s and families’ lives.

VCOSS and the family violence sector applauded these developments. The Victorian Government can now keep this momentum rolling, by investing in initiatives that prevent family violence and violence against women from happening in the first place.

In its 2016 report, the Royal Commission into Family Violence acknowledged there were “no quick fixes” and that a “long term perspective and sustained effort and investment” were needed.

It found we must tackle family violence “at its source and become better at preventing it from occurring in the first place”. Without this approach, services would “continue to be overwhelmed”.

“We need to give as much attention to prevention as we do to the other parts of the family violence system,” the report found.

By establishing a new prevention agency, Victoria has an opportunity to be a world-leader in family violence prevention research and practice.


The Victorian Government should be applauded for the release of its primary prevention strategy, first action plan and its work to establish a dedicated family violence prevention agency. An ongoing, long-term commitment and investment in prevention initiatives are also needed to achieve Victoria’s vision of a State free from violence.

In the past, prevention projects have commonly been funded by grants for small, local initiatives – often for only one or two years at a time. This means programs often develop in isolation, without a unifying purpose, and promising projects can be hard to evaluate or scale-up.

Experts warn this approach does not engage the broader community, with the benefits often limited to those participating. To strengthen the impact of different prevention initiatives, we need to ensure prevention activities occur across multiple settings, that is, in the places we all live, work, learn and play.

The Victorian State Budget 2018-19 provides an opportunity to deliver on this by increasing investment in primary prevention research and evaluation, and scaling-up effective prevention projects.

Ramping up prevention work across a range of settings and sectors can engage the whole community and reinforce the message that violence in any form is unacceptable.

This includes working hard to include people whose experiences have traditionally been silenced or ignored, such as Aboriginal women and children, women with disability, older women and women and children from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Building the evidence base on what causes, and what works to prevent family violence and violence against women in these communities will help develop new innovative prevention programs and activities. Ensuring evaluation is embedded in project funding is crucial to building this evidence base and identifying projects that can then be scaled up.

Rolling out community behaviour change campaigns that focus on shifting attitudes and behaviours towards family violence and violence against women is also essential for achieving sustained change.

By establishing a new prevention agency, Victoria has an opportunity to be a world-leader in family violence prevention research and practice. Ensuring this is adequately funded over the long term will help save millions of dollars across justice, health and social services.

Most importantly, it will produce happier, healthier, safer families, with women and children living free from violence and abuse.

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence or abuse, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Image linking to State Budget Submission page










Top image: Megan Lewis/CC

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