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Community approach to ending Domestic and Family Violence

Posted: 11am 07 Sep 2021

Working together to end domestic and family violence will have a profoundly positive impact on the broader community and likely lead to a reduction in youth crime, a forum at Deception Bay PCYC has heard.

Organised by the Moreton Bay Crime Prevention Unit, the forum, held in conjunction with an expo, brought together community and support services across the region, earning praise from Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council co-chair and former Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.

Centre Against Domestic Abuse chief executive officer Holly Brennan told the forum living with domestic violence had a profound effect on children.

“Young people who live with domestic violence are more likely to have anxiety and depression, more likely to experience mental health issues, more likely to use abusive sexual behaviour (and) more likely to become a victim of domestic violence or use domestic violence,” Ms Brennan says.

“If we listen to young people and ask them what they need and how we can support them, they will tell us.”

Ms Brennan says CADA believes one in three families experience domestic violence or control.

“Last year we saw about four percent of the Moreton Bay community and that’s just the tip of the iceberg – most people don’t come to a domestic abuse service.

“If we do something about domestic violence there will be 41 percent less homicides in our community – that’s one woman a week in Australia.”

Changing attitudes

Mr Atkinson says ending the cycle of domestic violence will take a whole of community approach.

“There’s no doubt that a child exposed to domestic violence is at greater risk in other areas (of their lives),” he says.

Mr Atkinson says if it is possible to change community attitudes towards smoking cigarettes, drink-driving and wearing seatbelts, it is possible to alter the narrative around domestic and family violence.

“In 1973, there were 632 people killed on Queensland roads – the rate of road deaths was 32 for every 100,000 people…now it’s down to 5.5 per 100,000 people,” Mr Atkinson says.

“When I joined the police force in 1968 there were four things not talked about: domestic violence; youth crime; suicide and mental health; and child sex abuse.

“Domestic violence was regarded as private business – now we’re talking about it, not just ignoring it.”

He praised the Moreton Bay Region for taking a proactive stance on breaking the cycle of domestic abuse in a bid to reduce its impact on young people and says the event is an impressive show of community concern.

“In terms of integrated service delivery, if there’s a better example of that than here (at the forum) today I would like to see it.

“We have a long way to go. It won’t happen overnight but I am confident we can get there.

“The result will be a far better society where children are able to reach their potential.”

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