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Ending Domestic Violence - What Australia is Doing PART II

 Continued from previous post...


  • This seeks to ensure that there is high quality Respectful Relationships Education in Schools
  • Building awareness of sexual violence in mainstream services among health professionals  and frontline workers

Safety at work

 All 55 recommendations of the Respect @Work Report will be implemented including the establishment of Women’s Centres in each State.
  • As of March 6, 2023 the Australian Government has also amended the Fair Work Act 2009 to expressly ban sexual harassment at work. This protection now also covers not only employees, but contractors, work experience students, volunteers and people applying for a job. The powers of the Fair Work Commissioner and the Fair Work Ombudsman have also been extended, giving them the right to investigate claims, mediate and resolve disputes. 
  • As of December 2023 there have also been changes to the 1984 Sex Discrimination Act which now places a legal obligation - a positive duty, on employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sexual harassment and other forms of unlawful conduct as far as possible. It also gives the Australian Human Rights Commission the power to investigate non-compliance.
  •  So that people trying to leave abusive relationships aren't penalised financially for lost time, the Australian Government has legislated to allow ten days of paid leave for anyone leaving a violent home. It is also providing funding to enable smaller businesses to comply.   


  • The Australian Government will work in formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to ensure policies and services are culturally sensitive and meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and their communities and are compatible with the goals of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan. A major focus is on Closing the Gap, in other words the general inequalities faced by Indigenous communities in health, housing, education and so on, with such services being staffed by members of those communities where possible.
  • There are plans to fund a special organisation which will deliver practical, legal, advocacy and healing within one facility and men’s and women’s camps to raise awareness.
  •  Victoria is establishing access points for First Nations people alongside its Orange Door Projects mentioned in the previous post.
  •   South Australia is trialling Healing Camps for First Nations men who commit violence or are at risk of doing so.


Although Child Protection generally is already covered by a separate Plan “Safe and Supported: The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children" and “The National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse, it is recognised  that children who witness or experience domestic violence need early intervention both to enable them to reach their full potential and to prevent them using violence themselves in later life. 

  • For this reason the Australian Government is funding the the Australian Childhood Foundation's Helping Children Heal Program to support children who have experienced trauma due to Domestic Violence so that they can reach their developmental, social and educational milestones. 
The Australian Childhood Foundation It operates throughout Australia and works with a variety of organisations. It educates adults on how to care for traumatised children and provides professional development for those working in this field. It also advocates generally for the safety of children.
  •  The Australian Government is also allocating $ 34.8 million for a National Early    Intervention Trial for 12 -18-year-olds with adverse childhood experiences.

  • The ACT is working to develop a new response for children aged 5 -12 and their mothers who have experienced violence at home.
      • The ACT also fund“Solid Ground” a pilot program run by Police in Canberra for young people affected by Domestic Violence. They engage in adventure activities and learn about managing emotions and how to have healthy relationships.

      •  In NSW and Victoria, all child -related organisations must apply Child Safe Standards  to prevent and respond effectively to child abuse and NSW has free training and resources to enable them to do so.
      •  NSW is also developing an Action Plan for responding to problematic and harmful sexual behaviours by children and young people which includes supporting those affected.
      • Also in NSW, a specialist workforce will be built up to support young people who have used violence. It will include youth officers, case workers, psychologists, convenors and funded service providers. Behaviour Therapy will be used across all youth justice settings  and in specialist housing settings.

      • South Australia’s KIND Program will also receive funding from the National Government  under its Innovative Perpetrator Response Program. It works with perpetrators of adolescent family and dating violence by using mentorship and therapy. KIND is also working on developing an Online digital Behaviour Support tool.

      • Victoria’s "Strong Families: Safe Children” Program takes Early Intervention a step further. It seeks to transform the system in which families function to produce Long – Term Social Outcomes, by strengthening communities, offering early support and keeping families together during crises. Key features include intervening earlier and strengthening partnerships between different parts of the system and having a unified approach in the way they interact with children and families.
      • Victoria is also working on more Therapeutic intervention for 15 -19 y-old Victims of Family Violence and is developing a model for use in Multicultural Communities.


The Australian Government is strengthening the legal Framework to improve justice outcomes for victims and survivors and give them more protection.
  •  It is spending $ 6.5 m over four years to make Sexual Assault and Consent Laws consistent across all states and territories 
  •  It is establishing an Australian Law Reform Commission Enquiry to strengthen such laws and  improve outcomes
  •  A further $ 4.1 m will be invested in a national training and education package to enhance police response to Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence, to increase awareness of Coercive Control and identify subtle forms of abusive behaviour.
  • An additional  $87.9m is going towards the extension of the Lighthouse Project. This is an initiative of the Federal Circuit and Family Court to enable it to protect vulnerable people and screen for and manage risk in relation to families involved in Family Court Proceedings. It is about ensuring the safety of vulnerable people and especially children. This includes taking into account risks such as substance abuse, mental health and child abuse.
  • Legislative protections will also be strengthened for vulnerable people during criminal proceedings  and alternatives are being considered for those who do not wish to deal directly with police.
  •  Legal Aid Commissions in the various states will also receive more funds. 
  • A hitherto neglected area – that of international abduction of custodial children will also receive more support as of 2024 in accordance with the 1980 Hague Convention.
  •   SA will pass legislation to criminalise Coercive Control and increase community understanding about it.
  •   It is also ensuring that Forensic Medical Services are available throughout the state and expanding the number of specialist Family Violence Courts from 13 to 20.
 Victoria is enabling court mandated counselling orders to be made upon finalisation of a Family Violence Intervention Order.
  •  Western Australia  is using a co -ordinated approach involving Police, the Justice Department and FDV Services and is adding 34 New Family Safety Co -coordinators  to its enhanced FDV team to provide culturally responsive services for those at highest risk.

 6.       HOUSING - Emergency, Transitional and Long -Term

 One of the major difficulties for women and children seeking to leave a violent relationship is the lack of affordable housing. Because Australia is the grip of a housing crisis generally, this area has received a lot of attention. I’ll only mention a few examples here which relate specifically to Domestic Violence.

  •  As part of its national commitment to the Housing Australia Future Fund, it is funding 30,000 dwellings , 4,000 of which will be for women and children  experiencing Family and Domestic Violence and older women at risk of homelessness – the fastest growing sector. Initially these will be for Crisis Accommodation and creating Safe Places for women and children including those from diverse cultural backgrounds and  women and children with disability.
While continuing to fund emergency shelters to the tune of $100 m over the next five years, concern remains about the lack of affordable intermediate and long-term housing needed for recovery and stability. In consequence, the Australian Government is committing $ 41.72 m over five years to deal with this problem.
  • An interesting program being funded in NSW  is Staying Home, Leaving Violence, which enables women to remain in their own homes or another of their choosing, so that they can retain their existing networks such as workplaces and schools. Begun in 2015 -2016, it involves assessment, safety planning, home security audits and case management, and may include locks, security screens, personal safety devices, surveillance cameras and electronic sweeping and debugging of homes and cars. Previously available in 33 locations, the program will now cover 84.

  • The Australian Government is also extending a trial of a relocation payment to enable women to move to a new home.
  •  The ACT is committing $ 37m to 57 programs under its specialist homeless sector including $8.8m for 11 programs for women with or without children, that combine short term accommodation with counselling, transitional support, education and legal assistance.

Integration of Services

  • This is an important new trend which is seeing both Victoria and NSW creating new refuges or upgrading older ones to Core and Cluster models which include ‘wrap – around’ support services for victim/survivors.
  •  Victoria provides ongoing support via two community emergency accommodation providers for women and children fleeing violence:
  • The Safe Steps Program maintains a 24/7 webchat Service and offers personalised safety plans, crisis support, legal advice and emergency accommodation in the 12 months 2022-2023 it has helped 1,862 Women and Children

Mc Aulay Community Services run  by the City of Maribyrnong helps women to regain control of their lives. It provides case management, advocacy and support,  accommodation, education and specialist support for infants and children. It has assisted 13,000 women and children in its 15 years of operation.

  • Interestingly, Victoria also provides medium – term accommodation and accommodation -based interventions for male perpetrators through the Men’s Referral Service

  • South Australia is spending $7.4m  over 4 years to extend its Crisis Accommodation Program to 4 weeks of case management so that women and children can obtain safe and stable housing.
  • Queensland is looking at its  Rental Laws to ensure that they support renters experiencing family violence and ensuring that Tenancy Agreements meet Safety and Security Standards.
  • South Australia is working with the Finance and Real Estate Industry to ensure that women do not bear the brunt of mortgage payments, loans and unpaid rents due to family violence.
  • To finish on a lighter note, Tasmania is also working on supported housing options and has a Safe Beds for Pets Program for people leaving because Family Violence. This is because few shelters and most rental accommodation are unable or unwilling to allow pets.

These are just a few of the many things which are being done in Australia to end violence in the home. How effective they will be remains to be seen. What is clear is that Australia is definitely giving it its very best shot. There will be those who complain about the amount of money being spent, but it must be remembered that we are coming out of a decade when spending on social services of any kind was cut to the bone. Indeed, it could be argued that more money needs to be spent to stop families breaking up and and relationships ending in tragedy. The current cost -of -living crisis will add further pressure on relationships as even middle class families facing higher mortgage rates or job loss, are forced to depend on charity food outlets and the lack of affordable housing forces family members an even adult children to live in closer quarters than they might wish.

I almost forgot, after every news item which mentions Domestic Violence the RESPECT Helpline is shown on the screen, along with the message, “If you or anyone else you know needs help, call this number 1800 737 732 (1800 RESPECT). This is the national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling service for anyone in Australia who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence or sexual assault. 24 hours, 7 days a week.

This familiarises people with the number, and creates awareness, even if they have no need of it now or for themselves. The other numbers which are often shown – especially after any depressing news item, is LIFELINE, the general Support Service and or BEYOND BLUE which is specifically for those experiencing Depression. The Commonwealth also runs a Translation Service. 

Unfortunately it is only available for those inside Australia, but it’s an idea worth copying.

Other countries are also working on the same problem. Next time we will look at what they are doing. If you have any thoughts along those lines or know of excellent new ideas that are working elsewhere, let me know via the Comments.  


Other areas which need more work in my humble opinion, would be teaching anger management early in life, preferably in schools - to all children, whether they show a disposition to violence or not. The other area where individuals and couples could use more help is when going through various major life changes, especially in the case of divorce, loss of a child or partner, unemployment, retrenchment and retirement, or following natural disasters such as our recent floods and fires in which people lost lives, homes and livelihoods.

Mental Health services generally should be more fully funded. Why wait until people reach rock bottom? At present there are long waits for psychologists even for those in crisis and a lack of crisis beds for those who are. We also need qualified psychologists rather than pastors in schools.