I’d like to echo the welcome already given today and thank you all for coming. It is great to see such a diverse range of stakeholders come along today to hear about our work.
I would also like to acknowledge the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging as well as the aboriginal people here with us today.
As Stopping Family Violence moves in to our 3rd year we are busier than ever. Over the course of today you will hear about a number of the key initiatives currently underway that are indicative of our mission to move forward around how and why we respond to perpetrators of Family and Domestic violence.
I feel encouraged by the growing level of awareness surrounding the impact of perpetrators as the cause of FDV harm and the need to ensure we do whatever we can to meaningfully engage them around accountability and responsibility for their actions. As most of you in this room will already know it is a statistical fact that FDV is gendered crime in our community and women and children disproportionately suffer at the hands and minds of men they know. this is not to say that men can’t and won’t be victims of family violence, we know they do, but we must acknowledge that it is men, not women, that perpetrate most violence in our community and it is men that absolutely must for part of the answer to stopping it.
It is for this reason that some of the activities you will hear about today, such as the fathering elearning, are focused on early intervention and primary prevention activities associated with men and masculinities. We at SFV believe that one of the necessary keys to stopping violence agains women and children is the challenge, and ultimately, change men. While most men are not violent, the way that men conduct themselves in their community sends strong messages to workers, peers, and importantly children about how to be a man, a father, a partner and a colleague. We know that it is through these messages that violence supportive beliefs are formed and reinforced but it is also through these mechanisms that opportunities for change exist. Evidence demonstrates that children growing up with a violent father are at increased risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator or violence themselves. This learning and trauma has lifelong impacts and the culture that surrounds it plays a vital role in reducing or exacerbating the effects.
We at SFV believe it is essential to have an approach to Family and Domestic Violence that seeks to truly partner with adult and child victims to provide the support and recovery needs relevant to them and respects the choices they make. However, we need to do this while at the same time pivoting the focus of our many accountability mechanisms to clearly and deliberately focus on perpetrators as the cause of, and answer to, family and domestic violence harm in our community.
To this end SFV has been working to strengthen the responses to men and boys across the whole continuum of responses. These include:
- Advocating the needs of children to receive support to help recover from the impacts of violence perpetrated by someone they know and often love
- Supporting programs aimed at challenging sexist beliefs and supporting young people to develop healthy ways of relating
- Supporting men to become active and engaged fathers and to acknowledge that this is good for both children and men,
- To develop strategies to intervene earlier and to challenge violence supportive beliefs and actions whenever and wherever they exist
- Supporting and developing intervention and policy that take a long term view to behaviour change and to acknowledge that these are often deeply embedded behaviours that require a web of interventions to address
- And finally to raise the profile of intersections in FDV and to encourage the belief that FDV is everyone’s responsibility.
Hopefully, what you will hear about today will demonstrate elements of these areas and we will also have some time in the second half of today to hear from you around areas or issues you see as important considerations moving forward.