Australia’s first royal commission into family violence has made a comprehensive 227 recommendations in its landmark report to the Victorian parliament, making it the most extensive document ever handed down on how to how to prevent and respond to the issue.
There is an emphasis on breaking down a segmented system to increase transparency and cooperation between sectors, as well numerous recommendations to hold the performance of those sectors to account. Transparency and accountability of the system, including police responses, are highlighted.
Removing the burden from victims in getting help and placing accountability on the shoulders of perpetrators is also a strong focus of the report. There is also a role for the state government in lobbying the federal government for change, the report says.
The right to perpetrators to experience privacy through the court system should not trump the right of victims to be safe, the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has said. For this reason, a secure central information point led by Victoria police and which stores databases from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice has been recommended so perpetrators can be tracked.
Andrews has promised to implement every recommendation, saying it would cost the government “hundreds of millions”. A more solid figure will be revealed in the budget. He says, no more excuses – violence against women will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be held to account.
The report is expected to be followed by the state, territory and federal governments as well as by governments around the world grappling with family violence.
Seniors Rights Victoria has sent through its response to the report: “Not only does the chapter on older people comprehensively and sensitively address the many issues involved in elder abuse – the whole report contains recommendations that will benefit older people,” says Seniors Rights Victoria’s manager, Jenny Blakey. “The report is a triumph for recognition of diversity in family violence. We are delighted by the underlying principles that recognise the particular experiences and needs of older people. Picking up on Seniors Rights Victoria’s submission to the inquiry, the report has specifically recommended more information on elder abuse for older people, better training of aged care service providers, the trialling of a Victoria Police elder abuse response team and more funding for Seniors Rights Victoria to provide expert training to the broader family violence sector.”
Elder abuse is vastly under-reported, but the World Health Organisation estimates that up to 10% of older people worldwide are affected. It is defined as any act which causes harm to an older person by someone they know and trust. Like other forms of family violence, elder abuse is about one person having control over another and is usually perpetrated by a close family member.
Financial abuse is most common type of elder abuse. It is the improper or illegal use of an older person’s funds, property or resources. We believe it’s important to protect seniors against exploitation and abuse.
Examples of financial elder abuse:
- Acquaintances of older people suddenly becoming very close who through fraud or threats excludes other members of the family and hijacks the finances of the older person.
- Attorneys under a Power of Attorney documents misusing the older person’s money or assets for their own benefit.
- A carer of an older person who assists in the finances of the older person utilising credit cards and other resources of the older person for their own personal use and enjoyment.
- Assets being given away by the older person to one child for reasons which the older person does not really grasp or is duped into believing is appropriate in the circumstances (when it is not).
Meanwhile, a tree and a small plaque honouring people who have died as a result of domestic violence has been unveiled in Brisbane.
The memorial at Emma Miller Place, near the CBD’s main train and bus station, will allow people to quietly reflect on the deaths of many.
The idea began with Brisbane writer Jas Rawlinson, who started a crowdfunding campaign and gained the support of council and Brisbane Mayor Graham Quirk who was at the event. Originally the memorial was going to be honour those who had lost their lives in 2015.
“Then we decided to turn it into something a bit bigger and more general to honour basically everyone who has lost their lives to domestic violence, whether that’s male, female, child. People who might be passing through the park and stop and have a think about how they can help to create a change in society.”
All surplus money from the crowdfunding campaign will go towards domestic violence support services.
Angela Lynch from Women’s Legal Service Queensland is thrilled to benefit from the fundraising.
Despite demand for their services increasing drastically, they only have funding for phone counselling until July.
“You can’t get past those statistics,” she said.
“One to two women on average a week are killed by their partner or their ex-partner.
“Behind those statistics are the women who continue to live with violence and the women and their children who continue to live with violence every day.”
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