14 December 2015

Domestic Violence In Australia: Breaking the cycle of domestic and family violence.

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Recent media coverage has again shown the difficulty victims of domestic and family violence face, with the downgrading of a murder conviction against Gerard Baden-Clay to manslaughter on appeal over the death of his wife Alison in 2012.

The Judges overseeing the appeal brought scratches on Mr Baden-Clay’s face into their decision stating while it was open to the jury to accept Baden-Clay had lied during his trial about the cause of his facial injuries, and that he tried to hide his wife’s body, there remained “a reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence of murder.”

From the time his wife disappeared in 2012 until the end of his trial, Baden-Clay denied he had had anything to do with Alison’s disappearance or death.

While the appeal has not freed Baden-Clay or declared his innocence, it has sparked furious debate how a man who steadfastly refused to acknowledge playing any role in his wife’s death, can now suggest it was an accident.

Family and Domestic violence in Australia was once the worst kept secret in suburbia. However, with social and mainstream media attention, the fact that more than 63 Australian women have had their lives ended due to family and domestic violence in 2015 has led to Australia’s Government’s standing up and taking notice.

Despite former Prime Minister Tony Abbott slashing almost $300 million worth of funding from family violence services, and homeless and crisis accommodation services in late 2014, he promised to make stopping family and domestic violence a key issue and priority agenda item for COAG.

However, it wasn’t until October 2015 that new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a $100 million package of measures to provide a safety net for women and children at high risk of experiencing violence. The package is designed to improve frontline support and services, leverage innovative technologies to keep women safe, and provide education resources to help change community attitudes to violence and abuse. The package also includes $21 million for specific measures to help indigenous women and communities.

Statistically, Indigenous women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence than non-Indigenous women in Australia.

A set of experimental data by the ABS, based on police data where incidents were recorded as being domestic or family violence related was released for the first time in September 2015, painting a horrific picture of the level of domestic and family violence in Australia.

According to the experimental data set, NSW had 28, 780 victims of domestic and family violence with an astonishing 12,561 reported cases reported in NSW last year alone. That’s a staggering 34 women a day reporting domestic and family violence.

Finding strategies to reduce family and domestic violence in Australia can’t be left to just the policy makers or legal community, but needs to be a community effort. The adage “it takes a village,” is the only way that Australia can stamp out the threat of domestic and family violence and ensure the safety and security of Australia’s women and children.

Akolade is proud to launch it’s Breaking the Cycle of Family& Domestic Violence Summit, to be held at the Novotel Darling Harbour, March 30th to April 1st 2016. The event brings together the leading voices for change who are shaping the policy and programmes aimed at reducing the risk of family and domestic violence.

There have been enough heart-breaking stories of innocent lives lost at the hands of those who are supposed to love them the most. Join us for an open and frank discussion to examine what we, as a community, can do to make family and domestic violence a lesson from the past and secure a safe future for the coming generations.

Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy.

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