Amongst other shocking facts released in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) landmark report launched today are:
Women are more likely to experience violence from a known person and in their home, while men are more likely to experience violence from strangers and in a public place
1 in 6 women (aged 15 or above) —equating to 1.6 million women—have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner, while for men it is 1 in 16—or half a million men. Three in 4 (75%) victims of domestic violence reported the perpetrator as male, while 1 in 4 (25%) reported the perpetrator as female.
Overall, 1 in 5 women (1.7 million) and 1 in 20 men (428,800) have experienced sexual violence. Most (96%) female victims of sexual violence reported the perpetrator as male, while male victims reported a more even spilt (49% female and 44% male perpetrators).
On average, 1 woman a week and 1 man a month is killed by a current or former partner.
While overall the data show that women are at greater risk, certain groups are particularly vulnerable, such as Indigenous women, young women and pregnant women.
Download the media release here.
Download the full report here.
An analysis by the ABC of statistics from WA Police reveals the number of family violence offences in the state has risen sharply.
Family violence offences, including assault and threatening behaviour, have surged more than 100 per cent in the past decade.
Read the full story here
Victorian Government offers a new package of more than $6.3 million in funding for prevention of family violence partnerships
Specialist Canberra legal service helping family violence victims, disabled could shut its doors within months
A specialist legal and social work service that helps some of Canberra's most vulnerable avoid evictions, including those fleeing family violence, could be forced to shut its doors by July.
The free service has been run by Canberra Community Law since 2014, helping residents with disabilities, indigenous Canberrans and those experiencing family violence facing eviction and homelessness.
While it has been funded by philanthropic foundations since July 2014, those grants from the Snow Foundation and Clayton Utz Foundation are set to end in July this year, leaving the law centre without money to keep it running.
Law centre executive director Genevieve Bolton said the service, called the socio-legal practice clinic (SLP), was the first of its kind in the ACT - bringing a social worker and lawyer in to work "hand-in-hand" with highly vulnerable people facing complex legal and social situations.
"The majority of clients are facing eviction proceedings often as a result of coming into rental arrears, property condition issues and neighbourhood issues," she said.
"But in order to maximise their prospects of people actually achieving sustainable housing, we understood we had to help unpack some of the underlying issues that were actually leading to the legal problems."
Of the 79 clients it helped last financial year, 77 per cent had a disability; 87 per cent had Centrelink payments as their main source of income and 60 per cent reported facing issues of family violence.
A possible indicator of the complexity of the work the clinic handles was the 105 actual cases it managed for those 79 clients, with several needing help with more than one legal issue.
Ms Bolton said the law centre wanted to ensure the clinic was achieving its aims, and had commissioned two "independent, external reviews" of the SLP clinic in the years since its inception.
"The independent external evaluation of the [initial] project found it led to more sustainable outcomes," she said.
"From the clients feedback to those reviews, it showed it was not only addressing their legal needs abut was providing vital support to help them address their social needs."
While Ms Bolton said the centre had urged the territory government to fund the $90,000 a year it cost to keep the clinic running, in a submission to this year's ACT budget.
She said for many clients, the clinic had "often meant the difference between being evicted or accessing public housing in a timely way".
"We've done the hard yards in terms of developing the program, we've been able to attract philanthropic funding, and we're had two independent evaluations which found it be highly effective," she said.
"Having seen the results and value that the program provides, we're now asking the ACT government to come and support this level of intensive assistance for some of the community most vulnerable people."
The government has previously said it does not comment on budget deliberations.
This article was written by Daniel Burdon and has been copied from here.
Two years on from Victoria's landmark report into domestic violence, victims still fear for their safety when attending country courts.
The Victorian Government has invested millions of dollars in court security and video facilities, but the problem of victims and offenders coming face-to-face has persisted.
The Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre has raised the alarm about family violence victims feeling vulnerable while waiting to be checked by security at smaller courts.
Some legal professionals have expressed concern that their clients are still at risk because of a lack of space, despite some safety measures being introduced at court buildings.
Court security has improved at the larger Bendigo court complex in recent times, and a metal detector has been installed at the Castlemaine court.
But community lawyer Rob Southgate, who often travels to Maryborough, has still noticed tension at that local court.
"They have a similar security system set up there but obviously it's a smaller court, so you still tend to have applicants and respondents standing side-by-side," he said.
"Then you get into court and the court's not overly large.
Court security issue raised in Parliament
A Liberal State MP has invited Victoria's Attorney-General to visit the rundown Maryborough courthouse, to further push the case for repairs.
Member for Ripon Louise Staley, whose state electorate covers the town of Maryborough, raised the issue of court safety in the Victorian Parliament last week.
"The Maryborough court is by far the busiest and in the poorest condition," she said.
Ms Staley said the building needed urgent works, but Court Services Victoria said it had already installed a registry counter and entry screening to create a safer environment.
The agency responsible for the state's courts said it was conducting ongoing assessment and priority maintenance upgrades.
She said she had spoken to victims who found the court experience difficult and confronting.
"We have victims, perpetrators, the police and lawyers all milling around out the front of the court because there is no way to divide them with separate doors," Ms Staley said.
"Unfortunately, Central Goldfields remains with one of the highest rates of family violence."
Royal commission recommended court upgrades
This week marks four years since the death of 11-year-old Luke Batty, who was killed by his father on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula during cricket practice.
His mother Rosie Batty became a high-profile campaigner against domestic violence, and her son's death triggered a royal commission into family violence.
When Victoria's royal commission into family violence handed down its final report in 2016, it recommended safety upgrades at regional courts in Victoria.
The Kyneton court has closed for renovations until mid-2018, with matters being heard at the nearby Castlemaine court instead.
Security officers and screening was established late last year at Maryborough, but some legal practitioners still think the court needs further upgrades.
"Obviously the officers are doing a sterling job," Mr Southgate said of the security staff.
"They try their hardest to try to make sure everyone is appropriately distributed around the court, but obviously the court not being overly large makes that challenge," he said.
Room for technology improvementsMr Southgate also said there had been some trouble with technology systems in the courts.
"I think it was recommended that there would be video links to court if indeed an applicant was feeling a bit apprehensive and didn't want to turn up to court," he said.
"They could use that as an alternative means of having their story heard."
He wants to see more encouragement for victims to give evidence remotely during court proceedings if it made them feel more comfortable.
Victoria Legal Aid has also suggested technology could make the legal process smoother for applicants.
Associate director of family violence response Leanne Sinclair said she wanted court users to have legal services available at their fingertips through their phones or computers.
"We've seen more recently the rollout of online applications for intervention orders," she said.
"A person can get onto their computer and complete the forms necessary to initiate an application for an intervention order.
"Hopefully in the coming months that will be more widespread across Victoria."
Specialist units at Victoria Police
From June, Victoria Police's 34 existing family violence units will become investigative centres with dedicated detectives and practitioners embedded into teams.
Over the next three years, these specialists detectives will be trained to respond to high-risk or escalating cases of family violence.
A police spokesman said the trained investigators would understand the complexities of family violence, ensure effective risk assessment, evidence collection and identify primary aggressors.
The statewide rollout of the specialist family violence policing model will be completed by June 2020.
This article was written by Stephanie Corsetti and copied from here.
On Friday, the Financial Counselling Association of WA, of which I am chief executive, was asked to elect a financial counsellor to attend a press conference with Water Minister Dave Kelly.
The minister was announcing revolutionary changes to the way Water Corporation was working with people in financial hardship.
We were thrilled to support it. Water Corporation, led by the minister, recently undertook a review of their financial hardship policies and in consultation with financial counsellors in WA introduced a raft of changes to more actively support people who are struggling.
They started by sorting out customers who 'can't pay' from the customers who 'won't pay' and realised that they needed to incentivise and support 'can't pay' customers rather than tie up precious resources in debt collection from people who don't have the money.
Staff at the Corporation personally visited these customers and offered an opportunity for them to retain their water connection by paying a monthly amount on a regular basis. If they then stick to the arrangement their debts would be considered paid.
This is such a great initiative, widely supported by community services and financial counsellors, who try to mediate resolutions for people in financial hardship with all the utilities. The work that the Water Corporation has been doing is unprecedented and sets a great example for other providers.
We agreed to hold the press conference at our venue, a humble building in East Perth where we operate the National Debt Helpline. As we were waiting for the Minister to arrive we saw all the media arrive. Every Perth news channel, online news, radio and print. I was thinking, this is great, such a positive response.
Then I remembered that the Minister for Water was also the Minister for Fisheries and had hit the headlines that morning on a story on WA's white shark population.
I quickly thought, oh that's why we have so much media, but never mind — at least we will have some positive news with the Water Corporation story first.
The press conference started, with the Minister and one of our financial counsellors, Seema D'Cruz, poised to answer inquiries on how the new changes were working for customers.
This went reasonably well, with some brief, unremarkable questions from the journalists.
As soon as that part of the press conference was over, the Minister indicated he was happy to take questions. The hounds were unleashed.
They quizzed the minister relentlessly about 'what are you doing to keep people safe at the beach?'
This part of the press conference lasted considerably longer.
It became very clear that the Water Corporation announcement was a necessary inconvenience, so the journalists could talk to the Minister about sharks.
I have to say the only sharks I was seeing was in the pack of journalists circling the minister.
I screamed in my mind, MORE WOMEN DIE AT THE HANDS OF THEIR INTIMATE PARTNERS THAN ALL SHARK DEATHS IN AUSTRALIA – NINE WOMEN THIS YEAR SO FAR BY IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED!
How could so much attention be given to shark bite incidents (albeit shark bites being very distressing) when we know that the scourge of family violence in this country is rife?
Women are injured, maimed and killed at an unimaginable rate and yet this pack of journalists was more concerned about what the Minister was going to do about sharks swimming in their own natural habitat.
Is this really what we have become? How obsessed we are with counting shark numbers, tagging sharks, setting up aerial patrols, drum lines, shark nets, surf lifesaving, warning systems and the like? Spending money on public servants who then spend time managing the "problem", developing policy and programs?
The media frenzy every time there is a shark sighting is incomparable to any other type of death.
I think we would drain the ocean if as many Australians died of shark bites as women do at the hands of violent partners. Forty-nine women in Australia in 2017, if you are interested.
I looked at media on Saturday hoping to see the story on the amazing changes from the Water Corporation. Nothing, not one word.
The shark comments made headlines, though. Big stories, small stories, comment pieces telling us 'the science is in', we have double the number of sharks than the east coast, never mind that we have warmer water and a bigger coastline.
They told us of the 15 fatal shark bite incidents in WA in the last 17 years. Yes, let's not forget the numbers!
How's this for numbers? Two women died between Christmas and the New Year in WA alone at the hands of their partners. Where is your outrage on that? Where is your front page and editorial and questions to the Minister responsible for the Prevention of Family Violence?
I am certainly not unsympathetic to those people and families affected by shark attacks and deaths.
However, let's have some perspective. If we want a debate about 'safety' in Western Australia let's start talking about the impact of violence against women and children, violence we know leads to horrific consequences for this generation and future generations and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
And as a last comment, and the whole reason for the press conference, let's applaud the Water Corporation and its minister for addressing the needs of the most financially vulnerable in the community by developing a dignified and realistic way forward and raise the challenge to the other utilities in WA to follow suit.
This article was written by Bev Jowle, the Executive Officer for the Financial Counselling Association of WA and has been copied from here.