The NSW Government will move to address same-sex domestic violence as part of a wider overhaul of domestic violence services in the state.
Minister for Women Verity Firth addressed a conference hosted by the Same-Sex Domestic Violence Interagency last Friday to assure the gay and lesbian community the matter would be addressed in the NSW Domestic and Family Violence Strategic Framework now in development.
Public consultation on the framework, held earlier this year, received approximately 60 submissions, including responses from ACON, the Gender Centre and the Same-Sex Domestic Violence Interagency, Firth told the crowd attending a day of workshops.
“The right to safety is a fundamental right and should be protected .. . domestic violence in same-sex relationships and families can be devastating. It is unacceptable and requires a response of government and non-government agencies,” Firth said.
“The response from the public consultations stressed the need for a flexible approach to be taken. We understand that one size does not fit all.
“The consultations showed a need for better integration between services and for services to be culturally appropriate, and that there needs to be better integration between government and service providers.”
Firth said there was a need for consistent training in same-sex domestic violence issues for police, health care providers and rescue services.
The keynote speaker, Sydney University’s Associate Professor Jude Irwin, outlined specific issues faced by gay and lesbian people in violent relationships.
“The actual violence [experienced in same-sex relationships compared to heterosexual] can be similar in many ways, but can include extra actions, like outing,” Irwin said.
“What is different, though, is the context. Gay and lesbian people have to manage the cumulative effects of living in a heteronormative world where the discourse around domestic violence does not include gay and lesbian people … It flows on that gay and lesbian people are often reticent to seek support.”
Irwin said common fears were having to be outed to get help; having friends from the community side with the attacker; and not being taken seriously by police and health workers or fearing the response would be clouded by homophobia.

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