While the reasons to leave your home are now necessarily limited for Melbournians and Mitchell Shire residents during the current Stage 4 pandemic restrictions, it is important to remember that victims of family violence and abuse can leave the home to seek safety.
Unfortunately many Victorians enduring Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions have also had to endure an increase in the incidence of family abuse and domestic violence, while also enduring the pandemic. In a proactive step to address this challenge, the Victorian government recently announced it is injecting a further $20million into family violence programs. The government is also proactively working to shift the focus from the victim of violence to the perpetrator. ‘Why didn’t she leave’ is no longer the first question, and nor should it be. ‘Why didn’t he leave?’ is perhaps the better one to ask.
Of that $20million injection into support services, as an article in The Age (18 August 2020) indicates, “Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams says much of the money will go towards programs to move up to 1500 perpetrators out of their family homes and keep potential victims safe. The minister said the approach not only prevented violence but kept perpetrators “visible to the system” and subject to monitoring by authorities.”
Keeping the focus on the perpetrator changes the conversation about family abuse and violence. And with more people being at home all day, people can keep an eye on their neighbours and report instances of verbal and physical abuse to the police, even if the victim cannot. The walls in the suburbs can be thin. There are many ways we can help each other through this crisis and calling out violence when you hear it or see it, is one of them.
The clear message is that if you are experiencing family abuse and/or violence, remember, you are allowed to leave your home to escape even in Stage 4 restrictions. Don’t hesitate.
Support systems are in place to help you.
- 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)
- Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre on 1800 015 188 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (Safe Steps is Victoria’s statewide first response service for those experiencing family violence or concerned about another experiencing family violence). Safe Steps operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- The Men’s Referral Service – 1300 766 491