The leading organisation tackling violence against women in Melbourne’s west has welcomed the findings of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Women’s Health West chief executive Dr Robyn Gregory said there is still a long road ahead with finer details to be ironed out, but the report, tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, marks a turning point in combating family violence.
“The findings of the Royal Commission are really comprehensive. It’s absolutely clear they have listened, sifted through and understood what has been told to them by service providers and individual women.”
Dr Gregory said the state government should be commended on its commitment to implementing all 227 recommendations outlined in the report.
She believes the report offers a blueprint that could outlast the political cycle, enabling a long-term focus on strategies to not only deal with existing violence but focus on prevention.
Footscray-based Women’s Health West saw a 30 per cent increase in family violence referrals from Victoria Police during July to December 2015, rising to almost 1000 per month.
“The demand for crisis responses is already through the roof because resources haven’t met the growing demand,” Dr Gregory said.
“I’m really pleased they have recognised there needs to be a second funding stream for primary prevention of violence, so this is not competing with response services.
“Primary prevention requires different strategies, expertise and action, and this has been recognised by the Commission. “
The state government on Wednesday announced it will boost early intervention services, embark on a housing blitz for women in crisis, and establish 17 state-wide safety hubs.
Dr Gregory said the hubs are a welcome idea that put the safety of women and children front and centre.
She said the report has been welcomed by services that work with women with a disability, but more work needs to be done to cater for culturally and linguistically diverse communities in areas such as providing interpreters.
Premier Daniel Andrews vowed the state government will change the culture that has allowed family violence to flourish in the first place.
“There can be no more excuses. Our work begins today to overhaul our broken family violence system from the bottom up.”
Prevention for family violence minister Fiona Richardson said it is time to create a new system that gives victims and survivors the support they need and helps prevent violence.
“We need lasting generational reform that changes attitudes and behaviours. We’ve done this for road accidents and workplace safety. We can do it again for family violence.”