There has been an increase in attention to family and domestic violence and recognition of the role Local Governments play in the culture and attitudes of their community through the services and initiatives they run at a local level. Since March 2018, WALGA has been increasingly requested to represent the Local Government sector on a variety of family and domestic violence topics. This has included Local, State and Commonwealth Government legislative reviews, parliamentary inquiries and the development of resources.

Family and domestic violence is a complex and concerning issue with significant long-term impacts for victims. Family violence refers to violence between family members, typically where the perpetrator exercises power and control over another person. Domestic violence occurs in current or past intimate partner relationships. Family and domestic violence behaviours can involve:

  • physical violence
  • sexual assault
  • verbal or emotional abuse
  • controlling behaviour
  • stalking
  • financial abuse, and
  • elder abuse.

National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children 2010-2022

In August 2019, the Council of Australian Governments endorsed the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, agreeing on five national priorities to reduce family, domestic and sexual violence.

Our Watch: National Organisation

Our Watch was established in 2013 to address a recommendation from the Commonwealth Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010‐2022. Our Watch is the primary national violence prevention agency which aims to drive nationwide change in the cultures, behaviours and power imbalances that lead to violence against women by working closely with members to implement its strategies and initiatives. All State and Territory Governments are members of Our Watch.

In November 2015, Our Watch released Change the Story: A Shared Framework for the Primary Prevention of Violence Against Women and their Children in Australia (known as ‘Change the Story’) which was developed in partnership with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS).

Prevention Toolkit for Local Governments

The Commonwealth Department of Social Services initiated the development of the Prevention Toolkit for Local Government which was an action from the Third Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010‐2022. This required action was to “co-design tools and resources with Local Governments to engage with business, sporting organisations and community groups to promote action against violence.” WALGA was part of a reference group which guided the development of the toolkit. The toolkit was piloted in five Local Governments across Australia, including:
  • City of Charles Sturt, South Australia
  • Latrobe City Council, Victoria
  • Mackay Regional Council, Queensland
  • City of Mandurah, Western Australia
  • City of Parramatta Council, New South Wales.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) was engaged to provide guidance to the five Local Governments using the toolkit to appropriately plan, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of an action that addresses family and domestic violence. Local Governments were also supported in developing case studies of their trial actions that contributed to the final report by ANROWS released in June 2019.

The Commonwealth Government provided the toolkit to Our Watch to finalise. The toolkit was released in July 2020 and is available here.

WA Strategy to Reduce Family and Domestic Violence 2020-2030

In July 2020, the WA State Government released a strategy to reduce family and domestic violence. Path to Safety: Western Australia’s Strategy to Reduce Family and Domestic Violence 2020-2030 sets out a clear whole-of-government and community plan for reducing and responding to this issue over the next decade.

WA State Strategy to Respond to the Abuse of Older People (Elder Abuse)

In November 2019 the State Government released the first ever strategy into elder abuse: The WA Strategy to Respond to the Abuse of Older People (Elder Abuse). This 10-year strategy is a blueprint for the priorities, actions and outcomes required to effectively prevent and respond to the abuse of older people. Elder abuse affects many older Western Australians and may involve financial, social, physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse. WALGA provided a  submission to the State Government in response to the development of this Strategy.

WALGA Webinar - February 2019

WALGA together with Know Injury and the City of Mandurah have previously held a webinar for Local Governments in February 2019 and the webinar slides are available here.

WALGA Discussion Paper 2020

WALGA has prepared a discussion paper on Local Government's role in addressing family and domestic violence, in response to the requests from the South West Country Zone in March 2019 and the East Metropolitan Zone in November 2019. The discussion paper provides a broad analysis of the initiatives currently being undertaken to address family and domestic violence, with discussion of the roles of all three levels of Government, relevant not for profit sector organisations, and comparison across States and Territories as well as Local Government Associations. In August 2020 the South West Country Zone and the East Metropolitan Zone reviewed the paper and endorsed the recommendations with some minor amendments. The paper is now available for review and feedback from all Local Governments until Friday, 16 October 2020. To view the paper click here.