Announced by Minister for Women Pru Goward in June, the ‘It Stops Here’ program commits $9.8 million over three years towards drastically reducing domestic and family violence in NSW, with particular emphasis on engaging with social groups classified as being “at greater risk”, including LGBTI people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people living with a disability.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill called the proposed reforms “groundbreaking” for the LGBTI community.
“These reforms hold the promise that people in LGBTI relationships and families will get much more appropriate services from a range of government and non-government agencies, at times when they need these services very acutely. Inclusion in the reforms as a high risk group forecasts greater attention to this issue in our community, including more research which is also greatly needed,” Parkhill said.
The new program comes after reviews from Parliament’s Standing Committee on Social Issues and the Auditor General’s office urged a “comprehensive new approach” to handling domestic violence in 2011. The reviews found that support agencies “lack leadership” and were operating “in silos”, resulting in victims of domestic violence “falling through gaps” between government departments and often forcing victims to recount their experiences multiple times.
The reviews also found that there was an inadequate focus on men, both as victims and as perpetrators of domestic violence. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that 73.7 percent of domestic violence against men is perpetrated by other men.
The government has been consulting with community domestic violence organisations and government departments over the last six months before opening up the initiative to gather feedback from the wider community. Ideas floated include early intervention programs, cross-agency benchmarks such as minimum practice standards and risk assessment criteria, and greater consultation between domestic violence agencies.
While accurate statistics on rates of domestic violence are difficult to obtain, ACON estimates that roughly one-third of people in same-sex relationships experience domestic violence, with only 30 percent of cases being reported to police.