GAY people in Ballarat subjected to domestic violence are typically travelling to Melbourne to access homosexual-friendly services, a local relationship sociologist says.
Luke Gahan, a spokesperson for the LGBTI Anti-Violence Project of Victoria, said new research showed LGBTI people were unsure whether they were able to access domestic and family violence services. Additionally, he said men in same-sex relationships were worried they wouldn’t be believed.
The Anti-Violence Project of Victoria has called on Ballarat and other regional centres to be part of a fast response once the state government received recommendations from the Victoria Royal Commission into Family Violence late this year.
Mr Gahan said people in both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships experienced domestic violence, but the rates of gay people reporting it or seeking help were much lower.
“In Ballarat, we have been starting to work with the police and they’ve been very good. They have gay and lesbian liaison officers at Ballarat and Daylesford and they have a good understanding,” he said.
“Some of the Relationships Australia services in Victoria have quite a lot of training around LGBTI relationships.
“Of course you go to the police for the regular help and for an intervention order, but as far as counselling goes, most same sex couples would go to Melbourne for some sort of counselling service.
“You want to go somewhere you will be automatically accepted rather than have to find out.
“People are pretty fragile when it comes to relationship violence, and when you’re trying to face homophobia and heteronormativity at the same time, it’s like a double assault on you.”
Mr Gahan said although there could be more LGBTI-friendly services potentially available in Ballarat, the community had little awareness of them.
He also said governments needed to focus more on same-sex relationships in domestic violence campaigns and noted the NSW government had recently announced a $115,000 program to do so.
Mr Gahan, who is currently researching a PhD project into separation between same-sex parents, said men in gay relationships who reported incidents were often treated as assault cases rather than domestic violence cases.
He said 67 per cent of gay men who experienced domestic violence didn’t seek help.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has found that both sexes are more likely to experience violence at the hands of men.