On Thursday 25th May Stopping Family Violence was officially launched. Stopping Family Violence has been established in Western Australia to drive forward the agenda of responding to perpetrators of family and domestic violence and growing the evidence base that supports this work.
The purpose of the organisation is to work in partnership with women and children’s services, policy makers and researchers. It will focus on providing leadership in the area of family and domestic violence perpetrator response and facilitate activities such as advocacy, workforce development, research and program development.
The organisation has been established in response to the unprecedented spotlight that is currently focused on the programs and interventions that work to reduce risk and change the behaviour of perpetrators and the growing need to support this work.
While these services have existed for many years there has always been a strong focus on services that support women and children who have experienced violence; these services continue to be vital, but there is a growing awareness of the importance of accountability for perpetrators.
Damian Green, Chairman of Stopping Family Violence said that programs and services that focus on perpetrator intervention to reduce risk are vital if we are going to keep women and children safe from violence.
“Latest data from ABS shows that one in four women in Australia have experienced at least one incident of violence by an intimate partner, while we don’t have a good understanding around the ratio of men who are violent, we do know that many victims suffer at the hands of repeat offenders.
We know that many perpetrators don’t just harm one woman, once that woman is safe (usually thanks to women’s specialist services in this area) they go on to harm other women. In addition, we also know that even when women escape the violence his behaviour will continue to impact the family, especially children who will likely still have interactions with their father,” said Mr Green.
Historically these programs have been poorly resourced, and supported, and have lacked an accreditation and compliance framework to evidence what they do.
“The organisations that respond to perpetrators are doing difficult work and are working hard to drive change and keep women and children safe, but we saw a clear need to increase the support they receive to meet these challenges.”
“The recent emphasis on perpetrator accountability triggered a need for well-developed peak bodies to work with the system to adapt, support the system to implement new programs and strategies and to hold the sector to account,” said Mr Green.
Peak bodies for Men’s Behaviour Programs exist in VIC, NSW and QLD, but there has not been a specialist body to represent the sector in WA.
“While there are many aspects of these programs that are the same no matter which state you are in, the WA context is important to consider.”
“We contend with numerous issues that are unique to WA, in particular distance, regional and remote communities, and our FIFO community.
Understanding how we respond to perpetrators in order to hold them accountable across our great state and in communities where men fly in a fly out, sometimes on unstable swings, is something quite unique to WA and so there is a need to have a peak body that can understand and address these challenges,” said Mr Green.
The first priorities for Stopping Family Violence will be to work with the sector to understand current practices, document and develop an evidence base for the work and to develop ways to articulate what the programs do.
“There is limited understanding, around responses to perpetrators and we want to work with the sector to increase understanding of what we do and the importance of perpetrator intervention for the community.”
“We want to provide support through opportunities for training, workforce development and by implementing a quality improvement framework so that we can work together to ensure that all women and children are safe from fear of violence.” said Mr Green.
 Cox, P. (2015) Violence against women: Additional analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Personal Safety Survey 2012, Horizons Research Report, Issue 1, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Sydney