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    Focusing on the prevention of violence against women can positively contribute towards achieving a broad range of local government strategic objectives and management responsibilities, as well as promoting the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. These include:

    Achieving council strategic plan outcomes 

    Undertaking violence against women prevention activities supports local governments to comply with their Local Government Act and ensures local government services and actions are more accessible to the entire community. Violence against women impacts on health, wellbeing and crime. Some local governments recognise this linkage and include violence against women prevention measures in their Health and Wellbeing Plans or their Crime and Safety Plans.

    Supporting economic prosperity 

    The cost of violence against women and children to Australia’s economy was approximately $22 billion in 2015-16. In 2002-3, domestic and family violence cost Australian employers $175 million and this is anticipated to continue to rise.

    Prevention of violence against women can support the reduction of employee absenteeism, reduce the detrimental health effects associated with experiencing domestic and family violence, and reduce the pressure on welfare services over time.

    Reducing homelessness 

    In 2017-18 domestic and family violence was a leading cause of homelessness and housing instability, where 42% of people assisted by specialist homelessness services had experienced family and domestic violence.3

    Increasing gender equality is linked to better performing workplaces and improved health and wellbeing for all community members

    Workplaces that have higher levels of gender equality perform better than those with lower levels, have improved decision making, and are linked to better delivery of services and governance to the community. Gender inequality is a driver of violence against women, so taking action in the workplace is a valuable violence against women prevention activity.

    Increasing the knowledge and skills of the workforce 

    Having your staff trained in domestic and family violence awareness and response, and participate in workforce gender equality initiatives, allows them to build capability and gives them experience that they may not normally be exposed to.

    Case study

    Latrobe City Council: Identifying how domestic and family violence prevention aligns with the council’s mandate

    Latrobe City Council, with a population of almost 75,000, has the highest recorded rates of domestic and family violence in Victoria. In response, Latrobe has identified itself as a key player in preventing family violence. To seek and maintain buy-in from key stakeholders within the organisation, the Local government has identified where family violence prevention initiatives intersect with state government requirements and council’s own strategies, policies and plans. They have found that the long-term strategic vision of the Council includes a focus on maintaining a safe environment free from crime and violence and that the Local government’s four-year plan includes health and wellbeing as a strategic direction. Latrobe City’s plan included a ‘safe at home’ pillar and an objective to reduce the incidence of family violence. Due to these strategic goals, they are able to continue to justify the development and implementation of a standalone family violence plan to contribute to the health and wellbeing of women in their community.

    Since then, Latrobe City Council has undertaken a range of different primary prevention initiatives, including developing cross-community and cross-regional partnerships to facilitate training and awareness campaigns. For example, five MATE Bystander Intervention training sessions have been delivered to 60 community members, five community groups have been funded through a grants program to deliver prevention projects, and a Latrobe City sub-regional Preventing Men’s Violence Against Women Group has been established.

    For Latrobe City Council, identifying and naming the key policy and strategic plan components has been a means to gain and maintain buy-in and ensure that their council continues to undertake family violence prevention initiatives.

    References

    1. KPMG, ‘The Cost of Violence against Women and their Children in Australia’, Final Report, (May 2016)
    2. Partnerships against Domestic Violence, Access Economics. The Cost of Domestic Violence to the Australian Economy: Part I (2004) Pg. 9
    3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ‘Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story’. (2019).

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    Supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.