MORE than $150 million will be injected into family violence across the state, but a leading Ballarat women’s health advocate says the initiative falls short of tackling the core of the issue.
The state government announced on Saturday it would invest the record amount of funding, as part of an action package, aimed at reducing the incidence of family violence.
The package included $41 million for a social marketing and behavioural change campaign, expansion of crisis-accommodation across the state, a multi-disciplinary centre for women and children experiencing sexual assault, outreach teachers for children and a trial of a GPS monitoring system for high- risk perpetrators.
Women’s Health Grampians chief executive officer Patty Kinnersly said while she welcomed the funding, it failed release details on how it would specifically target the leading causes of violence including damaging attitudes about family violence, sexism and discrimination.
“We have known for a long time the main causes of violence are community attitudes, sexism and discrimination which goes on across every part of our community,” Ms Kinnersly said.
“It is imperative that funding is allocated to focus on preventing violence before it occurs."
Ms Kinnersly said the government needed to fund initiatives that would protect future generations of women and children.
Her views were echoed by WRISC Family Violence Support executive officer Libby Jewson who said there was a need to build on the already existing localised and coordinated multi-sector approach to family violence.
This included strengthening collaboration between the region’s health
providers including mental health services, police and family violence and welfare services.
Ms Jewson said the focus needed to be on increasing early intervention programs and the accountability of perpetrators.
“Family violence is such a complex issue partly because of shame and stigma associated with it,” Ms Jewson said. “We need to be focusing on the high number of women who aren’t reporting this crime.”
In the past financial year, WRISC Family Violence Support Service assisted almost 400 women who were experiencing family violence.
The figures were 32 per cent higher than the previous year.
Ms Jewson said the service had also been inundated by a further 51 families seeking help who were only given short-term assistance.
Another 11 families had to be turned away.
WRISC also offered counselling to 134 women and their children who had experienced family violence which was 75 per cent more families than the service was funded for.
However, Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine said the strategy doubled existing family violence funding.
"These new initiatives address the causes of family violence, they educate the community, they provide support and hold perpetrators to account," Dr Napthine said.