The Victoria's Action Plan to Address Violence Against Women and Children (2012-2015) was adopted in October 2012.
Focus of the Victoria's Action Plan
Reflecting its priority status across government, the plan reflects a whole-of-government approach, linked to other government agendas and strategies. It will be led by ministers across a range of portfolio areas. The plan takes a direct approach to the issue: violence against women and children is unacceptable. From this very clear starting point, the plan builds on previous Victorian leadership and works towards a long-term vision of all women and children living free from all forms of violence. Forms of violence experienced by women and children in Victoria are addressed in the Action Plan and are included in Appendix 1. The context for the Action Plan is outlined in Appendix 2, which sets out the extent of violence against women and children in Victoria and its social and economic impact. The plan is supported by an investment of $90 million in 2012-2013 which includes expanded family violence and sexual assault counselling services, alongside broader reforms to legal, police and court processes and better connected services for women and children who experience violence.
This Action Plan will leverage partnerships with other organisations and communities to:
- prevent family violence from occurring
- intervene earlier to identify and support women and children who are at risk of violence
- respond to violence by holding perpetrators to account, ensure connected services are available, and provide strong deterrents to stop re-offending.
Prevention is at the core of the Action Plan. The emphasis is on educating the community to change attitudes and behaviours that have allowed violence against women and children to continue. Major new initiatives in schools, media and workplaces will be implemented to educate and promote respectful and non-violent relationships and to ensure that all Victorians reject the use of violence against women and children. Action will also be taken to engage organisations and communities to promote gender equity, cultural respect and a culture of non-violence. Regional action plans with a community focus will be developed to connect community organisations and individuals working on this issue and to raise awareness, share information and educate communities. New prevention initiatives that are tailored to meet the needs of multicultural communities will also be implemented. Prevention initiatives will also be undertaken to better understand and address the dynamics of family violence experienced by women with disabilities.
Early intervention is a critical part of addressing violence against women and children. The Government will act to identify women and children who are at the greatest risk of violence and provide interventions that reduce their risk and increase their safety. Initiatives include the expansion of family violence risk assessment and management training and resources for service professionals to identify and manage the safety of women and children at risk of violence. Action will also be focused on changing the behaviour of men who use violence. Initiatives will include training for mainstream services so that they are better equipped to work with men who are at risk of being violent and a pilot program for adolescents who use violence in their homes to prevent further escalation of violence, ensure the safety of all family members and change the young person's behaviour.
A comprehensive, integrated system will provide consistent, coordinated and timely responses to women and their children and will hold perpetrators of family violence to account. Under the plan, support services to women and children in areas of greatest need will be expanded, including, women's and children's family violence counselling and case management and sexual assault counselling. The Government will continue to build community confidence to report family violence to police. Reducing family violence is an operational priority for Victoria Police and it remains strongly committed to responding effectively and consistently to violence against women and children. To improve the way in which it responds to and investigates family violence, Victoria Police has introduced the Enhanced Family Violence Service Delivery Model and currently engages dedicated Family Violence Advisers and Family Violence Liaison Officers. It also utilises family violence teams in areas of high demand across the state. Victoria Police has strengthened its approach to sexual assault and child abuse through the implementation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigations Teams and has worked with other agencies such as the Department of Human Services and the Department of Justice to establish and operate multidisciplinary centres to provide holistic responses to victims of these crimes. Victoria Police will continue to improve responses to sexual assault, family violence and child abuse through Living Free from Violence: Upholding the Right - Victoria Police's strategy to reduce violence against women and children, as well as actions outlined in this Action Plan. Specialist family violence courts have also contributed to increased confidence in the system through consistent specialist support and improved integration with police and services. The justice system must be able to respond swiftly and effectively to increased rates of reporting. Under othe plan, new laws are proposed to hold perpetrators to greater account and to enhance police and court processes, so that family violence matters can be dealt with more expeditiously, meaning swifter justice for perpetrators and improved safety for victims. These reforms will be developed by the Victorian Government in consultation with the community. New offences and penalties will be introduced for breaches of family violence intervention orders, including the introduction of an indictable offence with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment. The Government will also be extending the operation of Family Violence Safety Notices issued by police so they can operate for up to five days, rather than the current three days. This will better protect women and children by extending the immediate protection police can provide to family violence victims before the case can be heard by a court. It will also give victims more time to obtain advice and make decisions, and will allow cases to be better scheduled for hearings, meaning less congestion and shorter waiting times at court for victims and their families. The Action Plan also provides for more mandated men's behaviour change programs, to bring about a fundamental change in the attitudes and behaviours of men who continue to act violently against women and children. The number of places in these programs will almost double. The Government will also pilot a program for offenders in prison or on community based orders. These actions will protecand empower women and children, get tough on perpetrators and reduce re-offending.
Source of Information
Government of Victoria