Family violence goes far beyond the common perception of physical violence perpetrated by partners within the home.
Its many shapes and forms include emotional and financial abuse and its reach includes Indigenous, LGBTIQ, multicultural, differently abled and aged communities.
For service WRISC Family Violence Support, the demand far outweighs its capacity to respond despite its growth over 30 years and an injection of funding following the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
One in seven Indigenous women has experienced physical violence in the previous year, while Indigenous women are 32 times, and Indigenous men 23 times, as likely to be hospitalised due to family violence as non-Indigenous women and men, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released earlier this year.
The statistics are likely to be higher with Indigenous Australians less likely to report incidents to the police or disclose the incident was perpetrated by a family member.
WRISC Family Violence Support executive officer Libby Jewson said another group experiencing higher rates of family violence was women who had a disability, while family violence in same sex relationships or within families from different cultural backgrounds was often overlooked.
Another area that is becoming more and more of a focus for WRISC is elder abuse.
Perpetrators are often the adult children of the person being abused, with victims reluctant to act because of that familiar relationship or a sense of dependency.
“It needs to be a whole of community response,” Ms Jewson said. “People think family violence is not good, but then some people justify it in certain situations or if there is strong cultural gender inequity.
“It needs to be bystanders calling out behaviour, it needs to be respectful relationships within schools and families, and it needs to be all services working together.”
To continue building a deeper understanding of the groups affected by family violence, WRISC is developing relationships and partnerships with other organisations with their own expert knowledge.
While WRISC runs its own family violence program for Indigenous women and children, it also works closely with the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative.
In its response to elder abuse, WRISC is developing a partnership with Wintringham – a specialised welfare company that provides housing and care to elderly men and women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
WRISC is holding its annual general meeting at the Ballarat Town Hall on Thursday, which will also marks 30 years of support in Ballarat and the Central Highlands region after starting off as a grassroots service.