THE NSW Government will plough more than $100,000 into initiatives to tackle domestic and family violence within the LGBTI community, with ACON warning lesbians in particular are being failed by support services in the sector.
Domestic violence and sexual assault are estimated to cost Australia $14 billion a year while one-in-three lesbians and gay men, and even more trans* people, are thought to have suffered at the hands of a family member or partner.
[showads ad=MREC]Domestic violence prevention minister Pru Goward today announced ACON would receive $115,000 to identify the early signs of domestic violence in the LGBTI community and deliver a primary prevention campaign to increase awareness of healthy relationships.
The funding is one of a number of initiatives announced today as part of the NSW Government’s five-year domestic and family violence reform strategy called It Stops Here.
“Ever year too many people in NSW experience violence at the hand of someone they know and trust,” Goward said.
“Domestic and family violence is a crime and its not just a crime, it’s a fundamental violation of human rights that affects a whole community.
“It’s important that LGBTI people and their families feel safe and supported, and this new funding will help ACON deliver services that will help achieve this outcome.”
ACON also announced a three-year domestic and family violence strategy at the event that states that existing services need to be more sensitive to the needs of LGBTI people.
“Domestic violence has finally achieved something close to the status of a national emergency but there has been practically no attention on how violence impacts on LGBTI people,” said ACON president Mark Orr, who highlighted that LGBTI victims are often fearful perpetrators could out their sexuality, gender identity or HIV status to family or colleagues.
Rates of domestic violence towards LGBTI people are broadly similar to that experienced by straight women but members of the LGBTI community are significantly less likely to report when violence occurs.
ACON chief executive Nicolas Parkhill said part of the reason for this could be down to most established domestic violence support services being set up along gender lines.
“There has been some great movement in some domestic and family violence service providers that recognise there is a need, but not nearly enough,” he said.
“One of the focuses of the new work will profile how lesbian women experience domestic violence services and also how the [female] perpetrator might be treated.”
While a blanket rule was often in place banning men, the same services were often less clear on how to draw boundaries around access when it came to the violent partner or female family members of a woman.
Parkhill also said more work needed to be done on how trans* victims of violence are treated — with Scottish data suggesting as many as 80 per cent of trans* people — as well as gay men.
“If a gay man rocks up to a domestic and family violence service they are largely geared towards women so accessing those services can be really difficult,” he said.
The first anti-violence campaign as a result of the new funding and strategy is expected to commence in early 2016.