Local Government Association calls for domestic violence prevention officers

Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock

The Australian Local Government Association is calling for dedicated domestic and family violence prevention officers to be instated at every state and territory local government association.

The 2020 federal parliamentary inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence in 2020 recommended the state and commonwealth governments co-fund dedicated family and domestic violence policy officers on a 50-50 basis to empower councils to prevent violence against women.

It also recommended that the federal, state and territory governments directly involve local governments in the development and implementation of Australia's next national plan to reduce violence against women and their children.

Association president Linda Scott said dedicated officers would assist local government to maximise its capacity to contribute to the prevention of domestic violence through targeted, ongoing support.

Cr Scott said preventing domestic and family violence meant changing attitudes, practices and norms across society.

"Prevention of violence against women is everyone's responsibility," she said.

"We all have a duty to facilitate and support actions that reduce its incidence and impacts and to support its victims.

"As the level of government closest to the community, many councils are doing just that.

"A key focus of local government associations and councils is developing family violence prevention strategies and providing financial support for local refuges and shelters.

"Local governments are also driving small but critically important reforms like promoting respectful workplaces, embedding gender equity in public places, and promoting attitudinal and behavioural change in children and young adults."

The Local Government Association worked with the federal government and non-profit agency Our Watch, to launch an online resource to help local governments prevent violence against women in their workplaces and communities last year.

Representatives from the association, Our Watch, and state and territory local government associations meet regularly to progress prevention workforce development strategies, training opportunities and other initiatives to prevent violence against women.

"Community awareness of violence against women and their children is growing," Cr Scott said.

"The quality and availability of support services are increasing, as is women's trust in them.

"I know all councils are looking critically at their workplace policies and their community engagement programs to make sure that we are doing the best we can to make a difference on this issue."

Cr Scott said local government awaited the Australian Government's response to the 2020 inquiry recommendations and continued to advocate for adequate financial support for local government.

"Violence against women is an incredibly challenging matter and there is still so much to do," she said.

"Only by working together can we make our communities safer."