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Barr: We must do more on family violence

By Michael Reid - 20 May 2016 10

family violence

The ACT government and the community must do more to prevent domestic violence, chief minister Andrew Barr said on Friday.

His comments were in response to the release of three reports on the impact of family violence on the community and how the system responds to it.

The reports are:

  • Report of the inquiry: review into the system level responses to family violence in the ACT by Laurie Glanfield
  • Review of domestic and family violence deaths in the ACT by the Domestic Violence Prevention Council
  • Domestic violence service system gap analysis project final report by the Community Services Directorate.

The reports were welcomed by ACT victims of crime commissioner John Hinchey, who said their recommendations were “pulling us in the right direction we need to go”.

Hold perpetrators to account

“We need to respond to domestic violence in a completely different way to other forms of crime,” he said.

“Education, a broadening of the response beyond the criminal justice system and a focus on families – I think these are the critical components.

“We also need to hold the perpetrators to account better because they are the people primarily responsible for the problem we have and I don’t think the focus has been strong enough on that.”

In a joint statement Barr and attorney-general Simon Corbell said the reports made it clear the Canberra community can and must do more to ensure families are safe in their homes.

The ACT government welcomed the recommendations contained within the reports, which would contribute towards “a comprehensive whole-of-government family violence package” in the 2016-17 budget.

The government was committed to improving services to ensure warning signs were identified early to prevent family violence.

Family violence was a national problem that demanded a local response, Barr added.

United response

Mr Barr said the ACT government had made significant investments to address family violence and there was now a clear direction for local change as a result of these reports.

“We have supported the National Campaign on Violence Against Women and Children and have strengthened laws to better protect vulnerable domestic violence victims.

“Today we hope the community will be more aware of the local impact of this pervasive national issue and the need for a united response.

“Family violence is community problem and we must work in partnership to address the issue.”

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the government would release a formal response to these reports in the next few weeks.

He said many aspects of the system to protect women and children worked well but elements were often “not joined up” and government and nongovernment agencies needed to address these weaknesses.

Sharing information

“These reports are detailed and raise complex issues so it is appropriate for the ACT government to consider these reports together, rather than each in isolation, so that we can have a holistic response to the issues that they raise,” Corbell said.

“The reports all examine critical aspects of the ACT government’s family violence service system and the best approach for change to meet the needs of victims and their families while holding perpetrators to account.

“A common theme is a need for greater information sharing and a more collaborative response to family violence.

“We must keep Canberra families safe, it is our community responsibility. The ACT government will continue to work partnership with the community to help bring about change for those experiencing family violence and ensure the right services are available.”

The reports are available online at www.cmd.act.gov.au/functions/publications

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