Rosie Batty visits SA’s nation-leading domestic violence response service
One of Australia's most prominent campaigners against domestic violence has received a first-hand look at South Australia's nation-leading response to the problem.
Australian of the Year and founder of the Luke Batty Foundation, Rosie Batty, today joined Premier Jay Weatherill and Minister for the Status of Women Gail Gago for a tour of South Australia's Multi-Agency Protection Service.
Ms Batty is visiting Adelaide with the Victim Support Service to look at domestic violence initiatives – including the trial of the Multi-Agency Protection Service.
The service, in Adelaide's CBD, is the only one of its kind in Australia, bringing together staff from SA Police, the Department for Education and Child Development, SA Health, Housing SA and the Department for Correctional Services to ensure a coordinated response to high-risk cases.
"Every week, about 400 high-risk cases are referred to the protection service by SA Police," Mr Weatherill said.
"It is horrifying that the number of cases is so high – but by having these staff under one roof we are aiming to respond to incidents more quickly and keep families safe."
South Australia's response to domestic violence also includes:
- A Family Safety Framework through which government and non-government agencies hold meetings in local areas to share information about families most at risk of violence
- A Domestic Violence Response Review - housed within the Multi-Agency Protection Service – which has been established to address any process flaws or gaps in a Government agency's response to cases of domestic violence. The initiative was a State Government response to the Coroner's findings on the domestic violence murder of Zahra Abrahimzadeh.
Ms Gago said the Multi-Agency Protection Service, Family Safety Framework and Domestic Violence Response Review ensure victims of domestic violence get the support they need while addressing any systemic issues that may arise.
"This, in conjunction with our proposed changes to intervention orders, will strengthen both our response to domestic violence when it occurs and the protection available for families at risk."
Police Commissioner Gary Burns explained that the responsibility for the protection of those most vulnerable in our community cannot reside with one agency alone.
"The impact of domestic violence can remain with the victim for a lifetime; in many cases the effect can be generational," Commissioner Burns said.
"An integrated response is essential to protecting domestic violence victims.
"MAPS enable each agency to bring specific expertise and as a result a coordinated and timely response can be offered to victims based on their individual circumstances.
"While information-sharing already occurs between partner agencies, MAPS enhances and strengthens relationships through the co-location of agencies.
"We owe it to every victim; to every woman living in fear; to every child forced to witness the brutality of domestic violence, to provide a collaborative and comprehensive response to domestic violence victims."
Victim Support Service CEO Julian Roffe said VSS was delighted to host Ms Batty's first visit to SA since being named Australian of the Year.
"The Victim Support Service sees the devastating impact of domestic violence every day as we help women and children to cope and recover from this insidious crime," Mr Roffe said.
"Through Rosie's fearless advocacy plus innovative and collaborative new initiatives by the SA government we are given hope that domestic violence can be prevented.
"Everyone has the right to be safe. Through our words and actions, we must all take a stand that violence against women and children is never OK and South Australians won't tolerate it."
Mr Weatherill said action on violence against women required more than just policing.
"One woman is killed by a partner or former partner almost every week in Australia," he said.
"If we're to achieve a significant reduction in this prevalence of violence, more is needed than just a law and order response.
"We need to fundamentally shift community attitudes. I am particularly concerned about the role of men in achieving this change – because it is a lack of respect for women which lies at the heart of domestic violence."
Mr Weatherill said all Government agencies have now embarked on a program to become White Ribbon accredited workplaces.
"As South Australia's largest employer, the public service can play a significant role – which is why all agencies are now seeking to become White Ribbon accredited workplaces.
"Through White Ribbon accreditation, we'll work create a culture of zero tolerance towards violence against women."