Around 13.4 per cent of LGBTQI adults in Victoria have experienced family violence compared with 5.1 per cent of the broader population. This was revealed in a survey conducted by the Victorian Agency for Health Information.

Now, a new program looks to address family violence against LGBTQI people. The Victorian government has provided $95,000 in funding to La Trobe University to develop a new training program to help reduce family violence against LGBTQI people. The new funds are in addition to the $600,000 LGBTQI Family Violence Primary Prevention Project – a pilot project run by the University’s Rainbow Health Victoria service.

“LGBTQI Victorians need responsive and inclusive family violence services and, despite our progress, we know they still experience stigma and marginalisation – that’s why programs like this are so important,” Minister for Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams said in a press statement.

Earlier this week, Rainbow Health Victoria released Pride In Prevention a guide to help practitioners and policy makers ” develop programs and activities to address violence against people from LGBTQI communities.”

 The guide developed a model for understanding the drivers of family violence experienced by LGBTQI communities. The model suggests that the drivers of family violence experienced by LGBTQI communities are likely to be better understood in the broader social context of marginalisation and discrimination faced by LGBTQI communities. These conditions create attitudes that potentially drive family violence experienced by LGBTQI communities, including views that LGBTQI bodies, people and relationships are less valid, healthy or worthy.

Family violence against LGBTQI people can be at the hands of their “family of origin”, or “families of choice” or intimate partner violence. The guide identified four major drivers of family violence – societal, systems and institutional, organisational and community, and individual and relations.

Minister for Equality Martin Foley has emphasised the need for “addressing the unacceptably high rate of family violence against LGBTQI Victorians.

Victorian Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Ro Allen spoke at the online launch of the guide, saying it was a valuable resource for both mainstream family violence services as well as LGBTQI organisations.

 “We know the drivers are similar to heterosexual cisgender families, we know that family violence has increased in our community during the COVID-19 period and we’ve got to have those hard conversations,” said ro Allen. “I remember when, when I first took on the role five years ago now, we didn’t have anything we didn’t have an LGBTQI family violence sector.

“We know that it is difficult for our community to go into (mainstream) family violence services and feel included. And so this might give you the evidence base to take it right up to your boards, take it right up to the management and leadership in your organisation to say, here are the drivers here’s the evidence. This is the work that we need to do. For LGBTQI organisations, we’ve got to have these conversations and now.

“We know that minority stress can lead to internalised oppression and that can lead to violence. We’ve got to have those hard conversations – women in our community can be perpetrators of violence in our relationships.  In lesbian relationships both parties can be perpetrators and victims. These are complex situations that we need more work on and I know that this is a great stepping stone.”

 The guide has recommended some priority areas.

“Repeated experiences of stigma and discrimination can lower the expectations of LGBTQI people that they deserve to be treated equally and with respect. Coupled with broader societal violence, this can serve to normalise experiences of violence for LGBTQI people within a family or intimate partner context.

“An integrated and mutually reinforcing approach needs to be developed. This approach needs to both counter the drivers of violence and increase the ability of people and communities to recognise and respond.”

The guide is available for download here.

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