Family violence is any threatening or abusive behaviour that occurs between people in families, marriages, de facto and LGBTIQA+ relationships. It may be inflicted on adults and children, or it may be between siblings or extended family members.
One woman is killed in Australia by a partner or ex-partner almost every week (Source: Safe+Equal)
Family violence is the main reason women and children leave their homes (Source: Safe+Equal)
Almost 40% of women continue to experience violence when separated from their partner
Many women will attempt to leave a number of times before finally separating and there are many reasons for this:
Names and details have been changed to protect client privacy.
Amal was referred to Kara Family Violence Service by the Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service in early 2011 after she fled the family home with her two teenage daughters.
Amal met her husband, a resident of Australia, in Lebanon in 2009, whilst he was on holiday. A year later they married and she moved to Australia with her daughters. Within months of their married life, Amal was a victim of domestic violence perpetrated by her husband and his former wife. Amal was sexually abused, financially abused and she was isolated. Several weeks later, unobserved by her husband, Amal and her daughters walked out of the house. A passer-by seeing the distressed family took them to a police station and three days later she in our crisis accommodation. Amal could not speak English, did not have permanent residency, and didn’t know Australia or its laws and customs. She had no money, was responsible for two children, was homeless and could not return to Lebanon. Over the three weeks that Amal was in refuge, Kara Family Violence Service helped her to link into a GP, Centrelink, migration support, sexual assault counselling and legal aid. We also provided Amal with food vouchers and material aid for 10 weeks before she was eligible for Centrelink income. She was taught basic living skills – how to catch public transport, where to shop, Australian money, the Court system. Amal and the children were transferred to a transitional property with the help of Kara Family Violence Service and her support continued. There were many court visits which impacted greatly on Amal’s health. She was linked into a psychologist. The children were enrolled into a language school and they commenced counselling. Amal and her daughters remained in transitional housing until 2014 when she was offered a property through the Department of Housing. Amal can now speak English, and she has permanent residency and she receives a benefit from Centrelink. Her daughters speak English and have continued on with their education. They are settled and they feel safe.
Merryn is 46yo and was born in the Cook Islands. Merryn* and her husband met 28 years ago. Family violence had always been a part of their relationship and several times Merryn left the marriage, but returned because of the children or because he said he had changed. After a significant separation and against the advice of her family,
in 2019 Merryn’s husband enticed her to move to Australia. Unfortunately the violence continued and Merryn was forced to leave her home. Merryn was referred to Kara Family Violence Service for crisis accommodation in October last year. Merryn had one bag, which contained a change of clothes and nothing else. She had no money, no employment and was not eligible to access Centrelink. At this time we had was provided access to a number of transitional one and two bedroom units located on one site. Kara Family Violence Service decided to use this development to support non-permanent resident clients who had been impacted by family violence. Women who are not permanent residents in Australia and on a Visa are not eligible for many of the financial supports from the government and clients like Merryn find it particularly hard to find accommodation. The units were a collaboration between DHHS, and the Woodards Community Foundation. With the generous assistance of You Matter, the units were furnished and made into individual and comfortable homes right down to a vase of flowers and a bowl of fruit on the table. We moved Merryn into a unit, where, with happy tears, she said for the first time in many years she felt safe and cared for. Being in transitional housing allows a client further time and support, from her Kara Family Violence Serivice Practitioner, to access safe and secure long-term housing. Kara Family Violence Service has been financially supporting Merryn – rent, utilities and daily living requirements. As Merryn has re-established her relationship with her family, she wants to return to the Cook Islands; unfortunately lack of funds and COVID has delayed her return, however after securing a managed isolation allocation, we have accessed funding for her to return to her family in March.
Family violence is complex and each experience is difference. International evidence suggests the major cause is inequality between women and men – that is, the unequal distribution of power, resources and opportunities. Stereotypical ideas about the roles of women and men in society and the way they should behave, fosters an environment for violence against women to occur. In individual relationships, this inequality plays out in the belief that a man is entitled to exercise power and control over his partner and children.
Support of women and children who are in high risk of harm.
Identification of and support of women and children experiencing family violence as early as possible.
Population-based and community initiatives to educate and bring about social and cultural change.
Advocate that action is needed through legislation and policy change by governments and organisations.
Advocate for the rights of women and children to live in safety and without fear, using professional practice informed by feminist, human rights and social justice principles.
Safe steps is a state-wide Victorian not-for-profit service for women and children experiencing family violence. Women experiencing family violence can call 24/7 and speak confidentially to another woman for information about family violence support services, legal rights and accommodation options.
Our Watch has been established to drive nationwide change in the culture, behaviour and power imbalances that lead to violence against women and their children. They provide national leadership to prevent all forms of violence against women.
1800RESPECT is the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. They provide a confidential service 24/7 for people experiencing family violence, their friends and family and workers and professional.
DV Vic and DVRCV have united to form Safe and Equal, combining over thirty years of experience in advocacy and innovation for change in the family violence sector. Connecting strength, capacity, and resources for greater impact, Safe and Equal is the peak body for Victoria’s specialist family violence services supporting victim survivors.
Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged between 5 and 25 years.
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.