Work continues to change the ending


UNITING Church of Maleny minister Rev Liena Hoffman and the church congregation recently joined the Speak Up Now – Stop Domestic Violence group to unveil Maleny’s fifth red bench in December.

The bench is in a lovely location under a large leopard tree overlooking the Obi Obi Creek.

It’s a tranquil place to sit and contemplate, and to also have important conversations about how domestic and family violence is destroying too many lives and what the community collectively can do to ‘change the ending’.

Speak Up Now group member Val France, who has worked in the domestic violence sector for more than 20 years, said that the community should remember that every year domestic and family violence increases.

Val said the types of violence were getting more extreme, with predominantly women and children as victims, although the number of male victims reporting violence was also increasing.

Having looked at data from the courts, Val said that each year the number of victims making applications for protection orders increased as did the number of reported breaches of those orders.

“Often a protection order is only a band-aid solution, giving a victim a false sense of security that they are safe from further violence,” she said.

“But, in reality, a protection order may be breached many times before a perpetrator is held to account by police or the courts.

“We have all heard the terrible stories of police allowing perpetrators to go back to their family home and, in many instances, the perpetrator then causes further violence to their loved ones.

“In many cases it is not because the police do not act, it is because they have limited powers to act as they would if the legislation permitted them to,” Val said.

Domestic violence protection orders issued
2019/2020- 44,179
2020/2021 – 51,697 

Breaches lodged
2019/2020 – 24,142
2020/2021 – 30,538

“To reduce the number of perpetrators causing harm, we need stronger legislation that enables stronger penalties for perpetrators who continue to commit domestic and family violence,” Val said.

The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce recently released its report called ‘Hear her voice’, which has 84 recommendations on how we all can help victims of domestic and family violence.

The taskforce chair, Justice Margaret McMurdo AC, in the foreword wrote: “Legislators, public servants, friends, family, bystanders, community members, service providers, police, lawyers, judicial officers – of whatever gender – together we can do so much more to make perpetrators accountable and keep women and children safe. But first – Hear her voice”.

This is exactly what the Speak Up Now – Stop Domestic and Family Violence group (Maleny and Blackall Range) has been trying to do for almost two years – working to get the whole community on board to speak up against domestic and family violence against friends, neighbours, family members as well as the stranger on the street.

“It is only if we work together to say no more violence, to say it is unacceptable in our community, that we may be able to achieve our goal to reduce domestic and family violence here in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Will you help us to achieve our goal?” Val said.

For more information about how you can support the group with its aims contact speakupnowstopdomesticviolence@gmail.com

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