Violence figures stun

Nearly 50 local women gathered last month to educate and increase awareness of family violence.

Held in Traralgon, the Family Violence – Taking Action in Our Community workshop was the first out of five to be run in Victoria.

State Social Issues chairperson Marie Vassallo said no one in the room actually knew the definition of family violence.

“Most of these ladies are retired, they never thought about family violence and that it means verbal violence as well,” Ms Vassallo said.

“This includes controlling and isolation behaviour… it can be limiting who they can be friends with or who they can see.

Ms Vassallo said a common scenario in family verbal violence which could be easily recognised was “being out in public and a woman will say something and her husband will shoot her a look, she will look to the ground and he will finish the sentence for her”.

Morwell Police Family Violence Response Unit Acting Sergeant Mark Blanchard said family violence made up for 75 to 80 per cent of police callouts in Victorian rural areas.

“They’re (workshop participants) stunned by the figures and they’re stunned by the cost associated with family violence and the impact in their community,” he said

Reports show that one million children in Australia are directly affected and one in three women are directly or indirectly affected by family violence.

“Police think that it’s likely that we’re still under-reporting cases of family violence,” Ms Vassallo said.

“Change isn’t going to happen today, but it’s a start.”

The workshop was funded by the Department of Justice in conjunction with the Women’s Health Network and the Gippsland Country Women’s Association.

Topics covered included recognising family violence, intervening strategies, services provided and how the community can make a change.

Participants heard from expert speakers and had access to counsellors in attendance.