A newly funded family violence service aimed at women and trans and gender diverse people who use violence has been announced.
Drummond Street Services, Merri Health, and On The Line announced the new program, which is funded through July 2019 in response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Drummond Street Services CEO Karen Field said the aim of the service was to address violence used by women, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual women, and trans and gender diverse people from the start point of their experiences.
“An important way to reduce violence is to understand how it evolves,” Field said.
“Most current services for people who use violence originate from models targeted at heterosexual men to address gendered violence against their heterosexual women partners.
“Existing research regarding family violence by women or trans and gender diverse people however points to other, or additional complex issues which sit outside gendered frames.”
Recommendation 87 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence indicated that current men’s behaviour change programs may not be sufficiently addressing perpetrators who don’t fit that background or those patterns.
One primary aim of the service will be that victim survivors are engaged and supported when it is appropriate and safe to do so.
Victims and those using violence will work with separate therapeutic family violence specialists via face to face and digital platforms.
A lead family violence practitioner will oversee the work of these two therapeutic family violence specialists to provide a clearer picture of risk and changes in circumstances which may increase danger for the victim.
This work can occur at separate locations to ensure victim safety.
“Our experience working with women and gender diverse people who use violence has shown many have histories of trauma such as childhood sexual abuse, ongoing experiences of victimisation, mental ill health, alcohol and drug misuse and discrimination,” said Field.
“We will evaluate and review our service against current available research to gain further insight into violence by women and trans and gender diverse people.
“Our three agencies are very pleased to have this opportunity to fill a significant gap and increase shared knowledge about family violence beyond dominant gendered contexts.”
Philomena Horsley from Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria spoke to the Star Observer in July about the absence of LGBTI people from conversations around the issue.
“It’s been a heterosexual model for so long that the LGBTI community hasn’t appeared on anyone’s radar, and if it has, people don’t know how to respond to it,” Horsley said.
Existing evidence suggests that same-sex couples often experience higher levels of intimate partner or family violence than their straight counterparts, and for trans people the figures are worse.
“People see heterosexual relationships and the stereotypes that surround them and think, ‘that’s not what we do’, but they need to recognise that patterns around control and power occur in any relationship,” said Horsley.
“We need to apply a new framework to understanding family violence that isn’t gender specific.”
Earlier this week, Magistrates Court Victoria announced a year-long pilot of court services for LGBTI people experiencing family violence.