DOMESTIC violence in the LGBTI community has featured prominently in a recent study by former Governor General Quentin Bryce called Not Now, Not Ever.
Last week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that her government would be implementing all 140 recommendations from Bryce’s landmark report, which is possibly one of the most LGBTI-inclusive government studies into domestic violence in Australia.
“The time is right for action and I believe the community has the will to change,” Palaszczuk said.
“We will now work with Queenslanders across the state to bring about a shift in our attitudes towards domestic and family violence, as well as providing the legal framework to help victims.”
Key recommendations from the report include increasing criminal penalties for domestic and family violence, a new specialised domestic violence court in Southport, crisis centres for Brisbane and Townsville and three response model-trial sites in urban, rural and Indigenous locations.
Several at-risk groups were highlighted in order to build specialised frameworks for improving protection and understanding of the unique issues each face.
For the LGBTI community, this includes threats of “outing” a partner to family, friends and co-workers, problems around reporting same-sex violence to police and more.
“We know that domestic and family violence in LGBTI relationships is often under-reported and people can face barriers in accessing information and support. We want to change that,” state Communities and Women Minister Shannon Fentiman told the Star Observer.
“That’s why we are developing a communication strategy including specifically targeted messages for the LGBTI community, to raise awareness of domestic and family violence, remove the stigmas around reporting and let people know where to go for help.”
In efforts to understand LGBTI-specific issues of domestic violence, one of 15 roundtables was held members of the LGBTI community chaired by state Environment Minister Steven Miles.
Part of the government’s response to the Not Now, Not Ever report will include a greater focus on the role that education and schools can play in changing attitudes of the next generation regarding domestic violence. Discussion of LGBTI relationships and issues are expected to be included within that response.
“The government response to the Bryce report recognises the need for a greater focus on strategies that serve to prevent domestic and family violence from occurring in the first place. Schools can play an important role,” a spokesperson for Fentiman told the Star Observer.
“The government will explore opportunities to work with principals, teachers and school communities to promote respectful and healthy relationships as a primary prevention strategy.
“In doing so, the government will draw upon research and consider current best practice in this area to ensure programs meet the intent of addressing attitudes and behaviours that cause harm to others, especially in the context of intimate personal relationships.”
Within the LGBTI section of Bryce’s report, it acknowledges and delves into the specific nature of LGBTI domestic violence, how prevalent it is, stigma and barriers preventing reporting and access to support and its implications for the community.
“Comparatively little data and research exists on the prevalence of domestic violence experienced by people that identify as LGBTI. While focus on this issue is growing, both in academia and in policy, there is general acknowledgement that this violence is largely under-reported, under-researched, and under-responded,” the report reads.
Fentiman said that over four years, an investment of $31.3 million will see the implementation of high-priority initiatives and over the year 2015-16, government funding of over $66 million will be set aside to tackle domestic and family violence.
“Dame Quentin Bryce has given us a detailed blueprint for success. We accept all her recommendations and have developed a government draft strategy which we will now take to the people of Queensland for input,’ she said.
“This is a huge undertaking, from challenging the culture and attitudes which underpin violence, through to the help we offer victims to ensure they are supported and don’t get lost in the system.
“We want to work with communities right across Queensland to make sure we can deliver the support and services which fit specific local needs and, importantly, prevent domestic and family violence occurring in the first place.”
For more information about the government’s response to the Not Now, Not Ever report, visit qld.gov.au/enddomesticandfamilyviolence