Ballarat leads way on family violence services with major conference

BALLARAT is leading the way to improve services for those affected by family violence by hosting an international conference on the issue in November. 

Ballarat Community Health (BCH) will host the Challenging Responses to Family Violence conference to generate conversations and ideas about improving existing family violence services in the region. 

International keynote speakers Dr Allan Wade and Dr Steven Stonsy will for the first time provide group workshops during the four-day conference in Ballarat. 

Dr Stonsy has treated more than 6000 clients for various forms of abuse, while Dr Wade has a background in response-based practices. 

BCH counselling team leader Fran Quigley said the conference was developed in response to the large number of family violence incidents reported to police in Ballarat. 

Ms Quigley said in Ballarat there were 519 family violence incidents per 100,000 people where an intervention order was applied for between 2012 and 2013. 

She said the Victoria Police data found there were also 279 and 184 reports per 100,000 people for the western region and Victoria respectively. 

Ms Quigley said the Ballarat figure was too high. 

“Just asking or expecting that women will leave is not enough,” she said.

“A lot of women will return to those relationships and sometimes men go on to form other abusive relationships.

“The conference aims to broaden the scope and to think more broadly about family violence.”

Counsellors, women living in refuge, men participating in beha-

viour programs, police and the public are invited to attend. 

Ms Quigley said the conference aimed to improve the existing practices for responding to family violence in the community. 

“We hope to better the services that we already offer in the community,” she said. 

“We will come away with additional strategies and better theories to increase professional development.” 

Ms Quigley said there would be between 150 and 200 delegates at the conference. 

She said it was important to hold a conference in Ballarat. 

“These women are living in our community and are brave enough to come forward,” she said. 

“We are interested in finding out what are the most helpful and effective ways for women and men to work around the issue.” 

The conference comes on the back of a five-month campaign by The Courier last year to highlight family violence issues, as well as the introduction of the workplace program Act@Work by Women’s Health Grampians.

kara.irving@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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