A UNIQUE program to reduce violence against women and children by working with new parents in south-west Victoria has won a $570,000 state government grant.
It will operate through first mothers' groups in maternal and health services across five municipalities in the region to establish respectful relationships in family settings.
Crime Prevention Minister Andrew McIntosh yesterday announced the grant for the Great South Coast Group's "Strengthening our Communities" project as one of eight programs to share $4.8 million.
"The community and government are sending a clear message that violence of any kind against women and children is never acceptable under any circumstances," Mr McIntosh said.
He said family violence was the standout crime of concern to communities in every region and the new projects would help address the causes rather than other measures which dealt with the effects.
Warrnambool City Council is the lead agency and its community development director Vicki Mason chaired the work in setting the strategy and applying for funding.
City mayor Jacinta Ermacora said the arrival of a first baby was often when relationship habits were bedded down in a family.
"This program will support the development of healthy non-violent relationships within what is a popular and supportive first-mothers' program," she said.
"Family violence is a significant health and well-being challenge for Warrnambool and this project will allow us as a community to get on the front foot and prevent violence before it starts.
"It's all about prevention. Research shows violence can begin either at pregnancy or when the first child arrives."