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Gaps leaving vulnerable women and children exposed to family violence

Sluggish implementation of early intervention programs for perpetrators and a “chronic shortage” of social housing is leaving vulnerable Victorians exposed to the scourge of family violence, a report has found today.

The Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor’s latest update delivered a scathing review of missed opportunities to save lives and better protect at-risk Victorian women and children.

It’s five years since the Royal Commission into Family Violence handed down 227 recommendations to overhaul the system. More than 60 are still yet to be implemented. Of those, 27 are overdue, including one that was due to be delivered in 2019.

The Monitor found efforts to better protect women and children continue to be hamstrung by:

  • Slow implementation of frameworks to ensure “early and prompt” access to behaviour change programs for perpetrators,

  • Gaps in the family law system which do not properly consider children’s safety and wellbeing,

  • A chronic shortage of social housing and other long-term affordable housing,

  • A “dominance” of short-term, 12-month funding agreements that are a “barrier to workforce retention”,

  • Late notice of funding renewals, including one instance where all staff for a new program were fired before an 11th hour funding renewal which left the agency having to “recruit, orientate and capacity-build the workforce again”, and;

  • Ineffective governance structures which lack coordination and adequate reporting processes.

Current trends in family violence statistics paint an agonising picture of a Government that has abandoned Victorian women and children who are most at risk.

According to the Crime Statistics Agency, there were 88,214 family violence incidents recorded in 2019-20 – the highest number in at least the past five years, and a 6.7 per cent increase on the previous year (82,651).

Comment attributable to Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence Emma Kealy

“Since the Royal Commission’s final report was tabled in March 2016, hundreds of thousands of reports have been made to Victoria Police from women who want the violence against them and their children to end.

“But although more women are coming forward, they can’t get the help they need to support them through, and out of, crisis and men can’t get the help they need to stop the cycle.

“One woman is killed by family violence every nine days. These women are more than just a statistic and this crucial work to protect them and their families must not be wound back.

“The blueprint to better protect them and their families is at our fingertips. The Victorian Government has a responsibility to make sure it doesn’t delay this life-saving reform.

“It is time for the talk and endless delays to stop. Women and children must be safe in their home. The violence must end and these lives must be saved.”

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