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Whole community must respond to family violence

Victoria’s escalating rate of family violence demands a societal shift in thinking that calls our entire community to focus on preventing violence and keeping women, children and vulnerable members of our community safe, says the Victorian Council of Social Service.

In its submission to the Royal Commission on the Prevention of Family Violence VCOSS calls for a comprehensive, state-wide strategy that focuses on prevention, early intervention, perpetrator accountability and which prioritises the safety of the most at risk members of our community.

“Family violence is having devastating effects across our community, and it stands to reason that we need to respond to it as a community,” said Emma King, CEO of VCOSS

“The Royal Commission process offers Victoria an historic opportunity to create a plan to prevent family violence recognising the role our whole community has in making this happen.”

“The Victorian Government’s submission to the Royal Commission, released today, makes recommendations on improving safety and holding perpetrators to account, including stronger criminal justice responses.”

“It is important to respond strongly and appropriately to family violence when it occurs, but we also need a societal shift in preventing family violence that promotes a shared responsibility across the entire community and the whole of government.”

“Preventing family violence, and responding holistically to the people that experience it is complex and multi-dimensional, and beyond the capability of any single sector or organisation to achieve.”

“Many people experiencing or perpetrating family violence will first come to the attention of services such as schools, health services and community organisations. Because these services have high levels of participation across the community, they provide a great opportunity to engage families at risk of or experiencing violence, and link them to support.”

“The VCOSS submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence recognises that community sector organisations are at the frontline, delivering critical services to Victorians every day and are often a first point of contact and significant referral pathway for people seeking support and advice in responding to family violence.”

“However, improving identification and referral of families into the specialist family violence system will not help these families if specialist services are unable to respond and assist them.”

“Family violence services within the community sector are facing overwhelming demand for crisis accommodation, counselling, referral and legal assistance. The publicity around the Royal Commission, as well as improved system responses will only add to the pressure specialist family violence services are experiencing.”

“The VCOSS submission recommends expansion of specialist family violence services including counselling, crisis accommodation, referrals and legal assistance.”

“VCOSS recommends the Royal Commission investigates improving integration between mainstream services and specialist family violence services and the potential for place-based approaches – such as integrated early childhood services and ‘schools as community hub’ models.”

“The prevention of family violence can only happen if we take a long-term, whole of community approach that prioritises the safety of all Victorians. The Royal Commission gives us an historical opportunity to begin this process in earnest.”

Read more on VCOSS’ recommendations to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.