There have been concerted efforts from state and federal governments over recent years to take action to address Australia's epidemic of domestic and family violence. The latest National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women Survey (2017) showed improvements in many aspects of attitudes towards violence against women and gender equality.
Whatever progress has been achieved to date, we have not yet seen a decline in the incidence of domestic and family violence. In its third Personal Safety Survey in 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported an increase in the number of both women and men who have experienced intimate partner violence since the first survey in 2005.
Increased demand for support services has been linked not only to the increase in the incidence of family and domestic violence but also to increased community awareness of domestic and family violence.
A recent report prepared by Australian Baptist Ministries revealed the results of a survey of domestic violence services in Australian communities. It makes three key recommendations to help meet a serious shortfall of support services for people escaping violent family situations.
- Build a comprehensive national database of family and domestic violence support services
- Increase investment in safe, secure, and affordable housing
- Immediately increase funding from state and federal governments to address shortfalls in crisis and short term accommodation
We particularly want to see governments commit to providing 500,000 new social and affordable rental homes to provide secure accommodation for people leaving violent situations, and a national strategy to reach this goal.
Do one thingâ€¦
Every action, no matter how small, helps to create a better for Australia. As you talk about the nation you want to live in, you help to create change.
On the Everybody's Home website, you can sign up to receive campaign updates about our collective efforts to fix Australia's broken housing system and support people leaving violent situations. You can:
- Sign a petition to support specific fixes that will help create a home for everyone
- Find content to share on social media
- Sign up to receive further campaign information to follow the progress of this campaign to change our broken housing system.
Writing to your local federal member, a minister, shadow minister or even the local newspaper is an old campaign technique that still wields clout in the 21st Century. When an election is on the cards, these tried and true methods take on an importance they don't normally enjoy.
- Find your correspondent and their contact information:
- Local member
- Federal Minister
- Minister responsible for housing
- Minsiter responsible for social security
- Minister responsible for domestic violence
- Minister responsible for aged care
- Shadow Minister
- Shadow Minister responsible for housing
- Shadow Minister responsible for social security
- Shadow Minister responsible for domestic violence
- Shadow Minister responsible for aged care
- Local newspaper
- Write and send your letter or email setting out how you'd like our housing system to change. You could include details about your personal experience of the issue, things you've seen in your community relating to the issue, and how you'd like your community to be different (you might like to read the advice from Parliament House about contacting members and senators).
- Tell us you've taken action!
It's easy to call your local member's office and ask for a meeting (you might like to read the advice from Parliament House about contacting members and senators). When there's an election on the cards, local members are in their communities talking and listening to voters to understand what they care about. If you're actively involved in helping to respond to the issue in your community, your voice is especially powerful, so don't be afraid to share your experiences and ask for action!
- Find your local federal member by searching your postcode.
- Call or email your federal member's electorate office in your local community and ask for a meeting. Include your home address so the office knows you're a constituent, and also mention the specific topic or issues you'd like to discuss in the meeting.
- If you don't receive a response, follow up a week after the initial call or email. Electorate offices are busy places and sometimes things do fall through the cracks.
- When you attend the meeting, dress and act respectfully, but there's no need to be formal. Local members are used to interacting with members of the public and will generally accept you for who you are. They might not agree with you, but they will accept your right to raise it with them.
- During the meeting, thank your member for taking the time to meet with you, and give a verbal summary of what you'd like to see changed in our support systems for survivors of domestic and family violence. You might like to print a copy of the summary document to take to the meeting to leave with your member for reference.
- After the meeting send an email thanking your member for his or her time, and following up any topics or questions raised in the meeting.
- Tell us you've taken action!
An election forum is a great way for your church or community group to hear from all your local candidates about the issues you think are important in the election. You might choose one or several of the topics in our federal election platform to raise with the candidates standing in your electorate.
- Organising an event is often easier if you have a small group to help. So a good start is to ask a few friends whether they'd like to help.
- Decide on a date, time and venue for your forum that will suit both the candidates and the members of your audience. It's helpful to check what else is happening in your electorate to avoid clashes with other important events that your candidates or audience members
- Choose what topics you'd like candidates to speak about at the forum. A simple but effective approach is to frame questions on your topics for each candidate to answer at the forum.
- Invite all the candidates standing in your electorate to attend the forum to discuss the topics you're interested in:
- Local member
- Other candidates - Liberal, ALP, Nationals MPs, Nationals candidates, Greens, One Nation, Katter's Australia Party, Centre Alliance, Australian Conservatives
- There may be independent candidates standing also, and you might need to find contact information for their campaign office through an internet search or via the Australian Electoral Commission website.
It can be helpful to let candidates know the questions you'd like to ask in the forum, and whether you'll be inviting the audience to also ask questions once you've addressed the main topics you're interested in. If you're not sure what questions you'd like to ask, some suggestions are below.
- Invite a suitable person to host the forum, ask the questions of your candidates and manage questions and discussion between candidates and the audience.
- Promote your election forum widely within your church or community group.
- Run your forum as planned.
- Afterwards, don't forget to thank all your candidates for participating, and for the people who have helped you run the event.
- Tell us you've taken action!
Suggested forum questions - domestic and family violence
- Last year, a survey by Baptist church volunteers revealed a serious shortfall in crisis accommodation for people leaving violent homes. How do you plan to address this?
- After the crisis, many women and children find they have no long term housing options and return to unsafe situations. What plans do you have to improve the availability of affordable housing for people on low incomes?
- People leaving violent situations are often reliant on social security to survive. Do you support increasing Newstart to provide an adequate level of support for people trying to survive on social security?
- How can we reduce the incidence of family violence, particularly in relation to addressing the root causes?