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Violence against women
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Why we need to stand against domestic violence

24 November 2017
Experts comment on domestic violence policy challenges

To commemorate White Ribbon Day, experts from the University reflect on why it is critical that we take a stand against domestic violence.

While the rate of domestic and family violence changes over time, the impact on survivors remains devastating. Ahead of White Ribbon Day, experts from the University of Sydney reflect on the effects of domestic violence and discuss why we need to take action. 

Violence as a human rights abuse

“Violence against women is one of the most prevalent manifestations of human rights abuse in Australia according to the Australian Human Rights Council, with one in four women having experienced domestic violence,"said Dr Susan Heward-Belle from the University’s Faculty of Education and Social Work.

"Death, disabilities, serious physical and psychological injuries and social disadvantage are often the results.

“The 2015-2017 NSW Domestic Violence Review Team Report (DVDRT) found that 204 people died from intimate partner violence over a 14-year period, with the vast majority of victims being women who were killed by current or former male partners.

“As expected, the DVDRT report contains recommendations aimed at legislators, policymakers, and practitioners but the report also highlights the crucial role that family and friends can play. This role includes supporting and believing survivors of domestic violence and holding those who perpetrate domestic violence to account. Preventing domestic violence is everybody’s business and that begins with becoming domestic violence informed.

“This includes the understanding that domestic violence is not a ‘lover’s spat’, or a mutual ‘quarrel’. Instead, it occurs when one person chooses to exert power over another through a pattern of coercive control, which is embedded within systems of inequality, the most substantial of which is gendered inequality."

“We can all take important steps to resist sexism in all its forms by calling out victim-blaming practices and advocating for the provision of accessible homicide prevention services like women’s refuges.”
Dr Susan Heward-Belle

Domestic violence and workplaces

Research Affiliate from the University’s Women and Work Research Group, Ludo McFerran, highlights the importance of creating safe work environments that ensure support is available to those impacted by domestic violence.

“Most women who report domestic violence experiences are in paid employment. As a community, we need to reduce the impacts of domestic violence by supporting those affected to stay safe in their homes and in their jobs,” she said.  

“Domestic violence drives employees into casual and precarious work. A special duty of care needs to be extended to casual staff as a result.”

“The clear messages employers can give employees are that victims will be supported and their jobs are safe; that perpetrator behaviour will be managed and won’t be tolerated; and that co-workers need to respect confidentiality but also encourage disclosure to managers or HR.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence and need help or support, please contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).

Charlotte Moore

Assistant Media and PR Adviser (Humanities)

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