Domestic and family violence prevention and response
Domestic and family violence is internationally recognised as a fundamental violation of human rights that can affect anyone, however it is a distinctly gendered problem that disproportionately affects women and their children.
In Australia, it has gained prominence as a significant and unacceptable issue requiring urgent attention and action. A holistic approach is being undertaken at both national and state levels through campaigns, policy and program initiatives, research, legislation and cultural change.
The most contemporary research we have tells us that on average across Australia one woman is murdered every week by a current or former partner, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology. One in three Australian women have experienced physical violence, and one in five has experienced sexual violence (National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022)
The impact of domestic and family violence on women and their children is profound and has long term implications. It is the leading cause of trauma and child protection related concerns and interventions, and homelessness for women and their children in Queensland. It is intergenerational in its impact and complexity; linked and leading to drug and alcohol addiction and abuse, long term health and disability issues, poverty, homelessness, family and relationship breakdown.
Unlike other social problems, domestic and family violence is entirely preventable. To prevent it from happening and to embed the cultural and generational change required, we need to both understand it, and create a shared understanding of what contributes to it.
Our WATCh provides some key facts and definitions, including addressing the issue of violence against men. All violence is unacceptable, regardless of the gender of the victim; but the evidence shows a distinct pattern of gendered violence against women that needs addressing. Gender equality and respectful non violent relationships benefit the whole of community.
This process is parallel, yet interconnected with policy reform, support and cultural change work underway in Queensland triggered by the Queensland Government’s Domestic and Family Violence Prevention strategy.
If you or someone you know is in fear or anxious about their partner call DVConnect 1800 811 811 – open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Australian Government’s national reforms on violence against women
The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, released in 2011, was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) with a vision that Australian women and their children live free from violence in safe communities. The plan focuses on both domestic and family violence, and sexual assault. The implentation of the national plan is long term and has four action plans that build on each other and enable an action reflection approach.
The Fourth Action Plan (2019-2022), endorsed by COAG on 9 August 2019, sets out an ambitious but practical agenda to achieve change and eradicate the unacceptable acts of violence against women and their children. For more information on the Fourth Action Plan go to the Australian Government’s website.
The COAG has the reduction of violence against women and their children as a commitment under their comprehensive reform agenda, with one vision of improving the wellbeing of all Australians, now and into the future. To assist in the reform process, COAG established an advisory panel to inform a collective approach and address this issue with urgency; the COAG advisory panel on reducing violence against women and their children.
The First Action Plan under the National Plan enabled the establishment of key initiatives such as Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited (ANROWS), a key source of data, research and statistics. Our WATCh, established to “drive nationwide change in culture, behaviours and power imbalances that lead to violence against women and their children”; and the 1800RESPECT National Sexual Assault, Domestic family violence Counselling service.
The Second Action Plan outlines the five national priorities and 26 actions for addressing collectively, linking reforms, and taking a holistic response to reducing violence against women and their children.
The Third Action plan was built on the understanding that gender inequality is a root cause of violence against women. There was an emphasis on primary prevention and driving cultural change from the ground up, in the process, assisting communities to better respond to and support women and their children who are experiencing violence.
Queensland Government domestic and family violence reforms
In Queensland a special taskforce was established to review domestic and family violence in Queensland. In February 2015 the taskforce released their report ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ – Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland; with the Queensland Government agreeing to implement all the recommendations of that report.
The report made 140 recommendations based on insights gathered from five months of engagement with communities and individuals. The recommendations set the vision and direction for Queensland’s strategy to end domestic and family violence and ensure those affected have access to safety and support.
The Queensland Women’s Strategy 2016-21 released in March 2016, acknowledges that we have a significant way to go to enable the full participation of women in the social, economic and cultural opportunities available in Queensland. Safety was identified as one of four priority areas to be addressed through the strategy; acknowledging that women are vastly over represented as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
In April 2016, the Queensland Government launched its Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Strategy 2016-2026, which sets the direction for action to end domestic and family violence in Queensland, encouraging partnerships between the government, community and business. This is one of the mechanisms to meet the priorities outlined in the Queensland Women’s Strategy.
The Domestic and Family Violence Implementation Council (DFVC) was established to independently monitor and champion the implementation of recommendations of the Not Now, Not Ever report.
Practice principles, standards and guidance for service providers
The Queensland Government has introduced revised practice standards for the domestic and family violence sector. The revised practice standards came into effect on 1 January 2021.
These practice standards apply to people working in a broad range of domestic and family violence services including services for both victims and perpetrators as well as services targeting vulnerable population groups who are at a higher or a unique risk of domestic and family violence.
While the standards have been developed to guide practice for Queensland’s domestic and family violence service sector, they can also be applied more broadly by other agencies whose core business is impacted by domestic and family violence. This includes prescribed entities such as those delivering police and justice services, health (including mental health and drug and alcohol services), education, and child safety services.
Domestic and family violence and the workplace response
While employers are beginning to become more aware and supportive of the needs of their employees who are experiencing domestic and family violence, we are still learning how to best respond to perpetrators within our workplaces. The Queensland Government’s booklet on workplace approaches to employees who may use violence or abuse can be found here. Champions of Change, a partnership of organisations with expertise in this area have released a guide which can be found here.
Safe Work Australia provides important information about taking a risk management approach to Domestic and Family Violence in the workplace in order to be compliant with Work, Health and Safety legislation.
The Queensland Government has a workplace support package including a policy template, e-learning and a communication toolkit.
Domestic violence is an important issue for the workplace… if a significant shift in attitudes is to occur in the community, each and every workplace must take this insidious issue seriously and take action.
Organisational policy workshop and resources
Increasingly, organisations are developing and implementing good policy and practice that provides victim-survivors of domestic and family violence (DFV) with leave and a range of other practical support strategies.
However, people who perpetrate DFV may also be present in our workplaces. DFV policies must also recognise and respond to these employees.
QCOSS and DFV Work Aware partnered to deliver a workshop for workplace leaders that analyses what makes good DFV organisational policy, including how to support victim-survivors of DFV in the workplace, and how to respond to employees who perpetrate DFV.
The workshop has been divided into six topic areas. Visit the Community Door YouTube Playlist or access the individual parts below:
- What is domestic and family violence, and why is it a workplace issue?
- Domestic and family violence in the Community Services Sector
- There’s policy, and then there’s good policy
- What is considered a good workplace policy response?
- Communicating and operationalising your policy
- Workplace Safety Planning Toolkit and other resources
- Domestic Family Violence Organisational Policy Template
- DFV Safety Planning Toolkit
- Workshop slide deck
Resources to assist your organisation:
The Queensland Government’s workplace support package includes a whole-of-government directive, a model policy template for agencies to adopt and customise, DFV-related support options and resources, and workplace partners. Local government, business and non-government organisations are encouraged to adopt this package to suit the needs of their workplace
Guide developed by DFV Work Aware: When Domestic and Family Violence Comes to Work – Recognising and responding to domestic and family violence in your workplace
Our Watch (Workplace Equality and Respect) initiative: Gendered drivers of domestic and family violence
WorkSafe Qld: Managing risks
Male Champions of Change: Employees who use domestic & family violence: A workplace response
Workplace training resources specific to Domestic and Family Violence:
DFV Work Aware was a project of Basic Rights Queensland.
Domestic and family violence assistance
Emergency response – call 000
Call for police, ambulance or fire services if you are in imminent danger, have been harmed or involved in a violent incident.
1800 RESPECT provides 24/7 confidential information, counselling and support for anyone impacted by sexual assault, domestic and family violence or abuse.
Phone: 1800 737 732
Domestic and Family Violence site hosted by Queensland Government – information, services and support for people impacted by domestic and family violence.
dvconnect provides free help for women, men, children and pets affected by domestic and family violence across Queensland. Their 24 hour telephone service provides information, telephone counselling and referral to refuges for women and their children who are in danger.
Phone: 1800 811 811
Brisbane Domestic Violence Advocacy Service (BDVAS) is a community based organisation that provides a free and confidential advocacy and support service for women, children, family members and individuals affected by domestic and family violence in the Brisbane Metropolitan area.
Phone: 07 3217 2544
Sexual Assault Helpline is a statewide sexual assault line offering telephone support and counselling to anyone who has been sexually assaulted or abused, and anyone who is concerned or suspects someone they care about may have been assaulted or abused.
Phone: 1800 010 120
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services – The DVconnect website has a directory of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services; and information about working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.
Resources to assist you with self-care
1800 RESPECT provides 24/7 confidential information, counselling and support for anyone impacted by sexual assault, domestic and family violence or abuse – including people who support others.
Phone: 1800 737 732
Blue Knot Foundation supports adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. Call 1300 657 380 for childhood trauma informed counselling and support.
Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia also provides an up-to-date list of national 24/7 domestic and family violence and sexual assault helplines.
Resources for multicultural communities
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women – The DVconnect website has information about assisting women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including links to interpreters services; context and support.
Immigrant Women’s Support Service has information in a range of languages.
Department of Social Services Family Safety Pack – The Australian Government has developed a Family Safety Pack for men and women coming to Australia. It includes information on Australia’s laws regarding domestic and family violence, sexual assault and forced marriage, and a woman’s right to be safe.
Human Rights Training Package – The Centre for Refugee Research in partnership with refugee communities and service providers has developed multilingual videos.
Many utility and financial service companies now have specific policies and sometimes special teams for customers experiencing domestic and family violence, including financial abuse. Service providers and hardship teams are required to maintain discretion, and are often trained to work with vulnerable clients.