City of Whittlesea leads the way with its Safe in Our Homes, Safe in Our Communities Family Violence and Gender Equity strategies.
VCOSS member, the City of Whittlesea, located on Melbourne’s outer northern fringe, is Victoria’s second fastest growing municipality. The area has a high prevalence of reported family violence. In 2013/14 there were 2,359 family violence incidents reported to Victoria Police, and in 897 of these incidents children were present – a rate of 500.4 per 100,000 population compared to 387.00 per 100,000 for Victoria.
The City of Whittlesea has responded to this by developing their Family Violence and Gender Equity strategies.
In launching the strategies last week, City of Whittlesea Mayor Ricky Kirkham said “Family violence is Council’s number one advocacy priority. We want to be a leader in sending a message to communities that violence against women and children has our full attention and we’ll be taking a zero tolerance approach.”
Months in the making, both strategies outline Council’s response to raising awareness of family violence and addressing the underlying gender inequality in the wider community, alongside its partners across the public and not for profit sectors.
The Safe in Our Homes Safe in Our Communities Family Violence strategy has taken an evidence-based approach, with Council articulating its role in family violence prevention, early intervention and intervention once violence occurs. It takes an multi-faceted approach with strategies across this continuum to target, children, young people, women, men, families and the broader community. The strategy also focuses on partnerships with agencies and community groups which are seen as integral to a united family violence response.
The Council is committed to promoting gender equity within the organisation and in the broader community. As one of the largest employers in the municipality, City of Whittlesea has a powerful opportunity to promote gender equity and safety from violence.
Cr Kirkham said “By role-modelling gender respect and equity, supportive work environments and a zero tolerance approach to violence against women, Council can send a strong message to the community and our partners. In addition, Council provides a range of community services, safe public spaces and community facilities which can be used as platforms to influence change.”
In the lead up to the Royal Commission into Family Violence VCOSS is pleased to see such a comprehensive strategy that places local government at the heart of its community, coordinating responses to prevent, intervene early and respond to family violence.