A domestic violence forum aims to give women a voice against their oppressors.

Organised by the Migrant Resource Centre North West Region, the women’s only forum on April 18 will feature speakers from Victoria Police, McAuley Community Services for Women, ISIS Primary Care and a rape support group, as well as from victims of domestic violence.

The forum follows the release of Crime Statistics Agency figures revealing “family incidents” rose by 22 per cent to 2737 incidents for the year to December 2015, up from 2244, the previous year.

There’s been a 62 per cent increase in reported family incidents during the past four years.

Resource centre volunteer and forum organiser Sanela Djambegovic said the forum would be a “casual, open discussion”.

“[It’s] an opportunity for women to come together in a safe environment to discuss their views on what they think domestic violence is,” she said.

“It is to generate discussion and to encourage women to speak up … to be able to share this information with their communities.

“Domestic violence is a very big issue in most communities however, because of its sensitivity, it is often not discussed as the women are fearful of the consequences.

“Participants will have the opportunity to listen to panel members from various organisations and will then also have the opportunity to discuss their views and give suggestions as to how we can better support women in need of assistance.”

Wider campaign

The forum is part of a wider campaign to tackle family violence in the west.

The centre announced its Westside Women Rising (WWR) program earlier this year, which plans to train women to take on leadership roles to help women from multicultural communities suffering family violence.

Women of Bosnian, Turkish, Macedonian, Vietnamese, Horn of African and Samoan backgrounds are being encouraged to take part in the project which will include a four-day workshop and 12 information sessions.

The centre has applied for a $100,000 state government grant to fund the program.

“In the five-year period from 2009 to 2014, the rate of reported family violence has increased by 66 per cent,” the group’s grant application stated.

“Of the 9045 reports of family violence made in Brimbank in this period, children were present in more than 30 per cent of those cases.”

The Migrant Resource Centre forum will be at Sassella Park Community Hall, Deer Park, from 10am. To register for a place call 9367 6044.