LEADING women’s services advocates hope recommendations following the Royal Commission into Family Violence include ‘strong, robust strategies’ to address gender inequality and improve the safety of women and children.
They’re also hoping to see the good work of the sector acknowledged and a government commitment to a co-design of any proposed new programs.
The findings will tomorrow be tabled in parliament before being released to the public.
The state government has promised to implement all of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.
Annie North women’s refuge chief executive Julie Oberin, who also sits on the Council of Australian Governments advisory panel to reduce violence against women, is hoping to see “strong, robust strategies to address gender inequality’’.
“Strategies that provide a better victim safety and well-being focused response for women and children experiencing violence, including police and court responses, and that adequately strengthen front line specialist services to meet increased demand until the prevention work makes a difference’,’’ she said.
“I hope they don't get sidetracked on allowing excuses for perpetrators by focusing on alcohol use and mental health issues.’’
Ms Oberin last week visited the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the 60th session of the Commission For the Status of Women, alongside Centre for Non Violence chief executive Margaret Augerinos. The pair represented the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance.
Ms Augerinos hopes the work of the sector is recognised when tomorrow’s findings become public.
“I hope the good work of everyone in this space is acknowledged, it is a complex issue but the responses women and children are being provided with have improved,’’ she said.
Ms Augerinos said she hoped the sector was not given the message the system was broken and the services were responsible for it.
“There have been many positives in terms of legislation, government policy, services – some good practice has emerged.’’
Women’s services are also hopeful the recommendations do not include dismantling the system to create a new approach, saying recent decisions to do this in areas of mental health, drug and alcohol services had resulted in disastrous outcomes.
“The strength of the system should be acknowledged and built on …. but it needs to acknowledge the stress on front line services, on women’s services, men’s programs, child protection, police,’’ Ms Augerinos said.
“There needs to be an increase in funding… an investment in workforce and capacity ... and we need to improve the amenities women and children have access to in crisis situations.
“Crisis and transitional accommodation is really not okay.’’
Ms Augerinos and Ms Oberin both hope the Royal Commission will place emphasis on the need for social change projects around gender equality.
“There needs to be a reaffirming and stronger statement that gender inequality is a driver around violence against women,’’ Ms Augerinos said.
“We need to work in partnership with the government around that … there needs to be a strong community message about social change.’’
And any change, Ms Augerinos says, needs input from the sector.
“The government needs to commit to a co-design of how the investment will be rolled out. They need to talk to services on the ground about what’s needed, and where.’’
Premier Daniel Andrews said the government would put “family violence victims at the heart of our reforms’’.
“This report will change everything. Our family violence system has failed victims for too long,’’ he said.
“I thank the many people who have contributed to the Royal Commission, particularly the brave victim survivors and the people who support them.”
Minister for Prevention for Family Violence Fiona Richardson thanked the commissioners and said she ‘’looked forward to a new era in response to family violence giving survivors the change they have long wanted’’.