Bendigo Community Health Services has vowed to play a role in ensuring the Royal Commission into Family Violence leads to cultural change and better outcomes for families.
BCHS chief executive officer Kim Sykes said the commission’s 227 recommendations, coupled with the state government’s determination to achieve real reform, were important steps in addressing family violence.
“Changing the culture around family violence is everyone’s responsibility, but change needs strong leadership, and it’s encouraging to see a state government taking on that role through adopting all the commission’s recommendations and ensuring victims of violence are at the forefront of reform,” she said.
BCHS executive director of programs, Andie West welcomed the commission’s focus on early years intervention.
“Children ‘witnessing’ or having exposure to domestic violence has been increasingly recognised as a form of child abuse, both in Australia and internationally,” she said.
“Children who live in homes where family violence occurs grow up with unpredictability – a home filled with tension and unrest, where living in fear is ‘normal’.
“This can lead to significant emotional and psychological trauma, similar to that experienced by children who are direct victims of child abuse.”
Ms West said the latest research showed traumatic experiences in the early years had a long-lasting impact on a young person’s life.
“This is the chance to effect real change – we must take it,” she said.
Meanwhile Bendigo Business Council CEO Leah Sertori emphasised the role local businesses could play in working towards the reduction of family violence.
Ms Sertori said she looked forward to working with BBC members, some of whom were specialists in the field, to assist businesses in the area of family violence.
“The recommendations regarding a specific court and court facilities provide a particular opportunity for the Bendigo region,” she said.
“Our beautiful historic court, despite some additional facilities, still struggles with the volume and safety required for family violence matters.
“Bendigo should be one of the first places in the state to receive those improvements and the specific hubs, particularly because we have the expertise of some world leaders in the field.”