Plan in motion, but cultural shift needed

The State Government’s 10-year plan to tackle family violence may have been announced just last month, but workers at the coal-face of the issue say many of its initiatives are already in motion.

Quantum Support Services general manager of children, youth and family services Cindy Pullar said an increase in specialist workers, as well as family violence and child protection organisations working more closely together, had already been implemented prior to the plan’s release, allowing local services to initiate coordinated responses.

“I think for us we are already seeing parts of it implemented before the plan is out,” Ms Pullar said.

“And I think that’s because they (the State Government) haven’t waited for the 10-year plan to be released; they’ve started to work on what their priorities are.”

The 10-year plan includes a network of 17 support and safety hubs, one to be built in inner Gippsland as a central access point for victims to receive support.

It came in response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, which in March this year handed down 227 recommendations to overhaul the sector.

The 10-year plan also features a new digital system for police referrals to family violence services, law reform to remove a perpetrator’s right to consent to their information being shared, and the creation of a “trust zone” of organisations who can share information.

It includes changes to the bail act, strengthening of intervention orders and specialist training for Victoria Police officers.

Ms Puller said the plan was “definitely on the right track” to combating family violence, however a cultural shift was needed.

“Culturally we’ve accepted disrespect towards women and I don’t think that has shifted completely,” she said.

“So the earlier we start to promote gender equality and respect between genders the better.”

Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault chief executive Fiona Boyle said she would like to have seen a more in-depth focus on sexual assault in the plan.

“I welcome the recommendation for family violence and sexual assault organisations to come together and the targeting of children displaying sexual behaviours. I welcome the focus on prevention,” she said.

“However, I also have been pretty clear in the past that it’s not up to the children to protect themselves… it’s the responsibility of the adults.”