Domestic Violence prevention needs funding help

Magistrate Peter Mellas had every right to be frustrated this week when he went to order a man to undertake a change behaviour program for domestic violence offenders.

He was informed the course, run through the Office of Corrections, could not take any new participants for seven months.

"I've gotta stop giving the lecture," Mr Mellas said, adding that believing support services were in place and finding out out they were not, was difficult to accept.

"It undermines the whole sentencing process.”

The magistrate was critical of the Office of Corrections, which he said "talked big" about service provision at a recent magistrates conference.

"But you specifically ask about services outside metropolitan Melbourne and they go quiet," Mr Mellas said.

The inability to provide access to the program – a key plank in the campaign to prevent domestic violence – is disturbing.

It underlines the alarming rise in domestic violence incidents reaching courts; it also gives a snapshot of the issue’s prevalence in our communities.

This instance proves there is not enough funding for the campaign to reduce domestic violence.

The State Government announced an “unprecedented” $1.91 billion package to fight domestic violence earlier this year. Included in that was $76.9 million to "hold perpetrators of family violence to account and to change perpetrator behaviour".

Hopefully that means the seven-month wait revealed in Warrnambool this week will be quickly addressed.

The government deserves praise for its commitment to the cause but sadly, everyday violence is meted out to women and children in Victoria. And the incidence of domestic violence is growing.

There are no quick fixes.

As communities we need to change attitudes and behaviour towards women. We need to address gender stereotypes.

We also need to be clear that domestic violence is a choice some men make and that we need to educate our younger, vulnerable males, violence against women is unacceptable. Funding alone won’t succeed in the campaign against domestic violence but it sure would help.

If you or someone you know needs support because of domestic violence contact 1800RESPECT