Everyone has the right to be safe at Christmas

Everyone has the right to be safe at Christmas

Tuesday 21 December 2021

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For many, the holiday season brings a sense of joy and celebration. It’s a time for reflection and festivity, a time to get together with family and friends – some of whom we may be seeing for the first time in almost two years. But for others, this is a time of fear.

December and January have long been the busiest time of year for specialist family violence support services. This is reflected in data on calls to services and police, which dramatically increased during the 2020-21 holiday season. According to Victoria Police figures, more than two thirds of all assaults reported between Christmas and New Year’s Day were related to family violence, with police attending a family violence incident every five minutes.

By the time all the presents have been opened, the food eaten, and the crackers popped this Christmas, there will have been approximately twice as many family violence assaults compared to other days in the year. These increases come on top of already alarming rates of family violence seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These numbers are staggering. Yet they don’t even paint the whole picture, as we know most people experiencing abuse will never contact the police. Many, however, will tell a friend, family member, or colleague.

So what can we, as a community, do to help? We all have a part to play in preventing and responding to family violence by looking out for friends, family and neighbours, and knowing what action to take if we are concerned someone may be experiencing abuse.


How do I know if it’s family violence?

Family violence is a pattern of threatening, controlling or violent behaviour that makes someone feel scared or unsafe. While it impacts people of all genders, identities, age groups, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds and walks of life, most family violence is perpetrated by men, against women.

It’s also important to remember that family violence doesn’t always involve physical abuse. It can also include behaviours like threats, financial control, and emotional abuse. It is often cyclical – there may be periods of time without violence, and times where the violence is heightened. No matter what form it takes, family violence is never acceptable.


Common signs to look out for:

Someone who is experiencing family violence may not openly disclose that they are being abused, but there are often signs that indicate something is not right.

They may withdraw from loved ones or seem depressed. Their partner, ex-partner or family member may undermine their credibility, criticise or humiliate them publicly. They may seem afraid or nervous when this person is around, or may have cuts, bruises and other injuries with unlikely explanations. Perhaps they have mentioned their partner or family member’s temper or jealousy to you. Maybe you have seen their partner constantly calling, texting or monitoring their movements.

For children or young people who may be experiencing family violence, the signs can be harder to recognise. Sudden behaviour changes like difficulty concentrating, not wanting to go home, ‘acting out’ or becoming angry and aggressive at friends and family can mean there is something going on.


What can I do?

If anyone is in immediate danger, always call the police on triple zero (000). If there is no immediate risk, the best thing you can do is find an opportunity to speak with the person you’re concerned about alone, and approach them with sensitivity and empathy. For people experiencing abuse, being asked a simple question like ‘are you safe at home?’ can make a world of difference.

If someone discloses violence or abuse to you, it’s important you listen without judgement or criticism – the violence is never their fault. Saying ‘just leave’ is not helpful – there are many reasons why someone may be unable or unwilling to leave an abusive partner.

Help build confidence by acknowledging their bravery in sharing. Tell them that you believe them, and you want to help.

Help them make a safety plan – this could include being their emergency contact, agreeing on a code word or signal they can use if they need help, looking after copies of important documents and items in case they need to leave home quickly, or providing practical support like childcare or assistance with errands.

Let them know professional support is available – a good place to start is the list of Victorian services on the Are You Safe At Home website.

It can be scary to ask the question, but it could be the greatest gift you give these holidays.


For 24/7 family violence crisis support and accommodation in Victoria, contact Safe Steps on
1800 015 188.

For support and information in other states and territories, contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

For tailored LGBTIQA+ support and information in Victoria, contact Rainbow Door on 1800 729 367.

If you or someone you know may be at risk of using family violence, contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.


*This op-ed from Safe and Equal CEO Tania Farha was originally published in the Herald Sun on Tuesday 21 December 2021.

Page last updated Tuesday, December 21 2021


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Victorian Emergency and Disaster Response

Victorian Emergency and Disaster Response

Tuesday 21 December 2021

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This blog post shares key updates and links regarding Victorian emergency management. These include Victoria’s revised State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP), SEMP roles and responsibilities and the new Emergency Recovery Resource Portal (ERRP). The table provided outlines key contacts in emergency and disaster for members to use and share with their local community and clients.

Victoria’s revised State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) 

The SEMP details the state emergency management arrangements for the mitigation of, response to, and recovery from emergencies. It informs all levels of planning across Victoria – state, regional and municipal.  

The 2021 Review was undertaken across a six-month period and included comprehensive engagement with the emergency management sector, government departments and supporting agencies. 

The SEMP Roles and Responsibilities document (linked below) lists an extensive range of emergency and disaster support including fire, flood, and animal welfare. 

The State Emergency Management Plan Roles and Responsibilities is a web-based section of the State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) which includes a detailed Roles and Responsibilities section.  

The Victorian Government has launched a new Emergency Recovery Resource Portal (ERRP) 

The new portal provides emergency recovery guidance and information for practitioners from communities and agencies supporting recovery in Victoria. 

Over 50 resources from a wide range of sources are now available in the ERRP, to inform and guide recovery activities and decision making. Greater access to these resources will better enable community-led recovery and resilience practices. 

The portal is part of the Victorian Government’s response to the Inspector General for Emergency Management (IGEM). It was co-created by people and practitioners from across government and the community. 

We encourage our members to share the table below with their local community or clients, particularly in the lead-up to bushfire season in Victoria. An additional resource produced by Better Health Channel in consultation with The Department of Health outlines services that you can call for immediate help1. 

In an emergency, always call triple zero (000) on any phone that has reception, even if the phone is locked you can drag the ‘Emergency SOS’ slider to call emergency services. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, dial 106 to use the text-based emergency services network on a teletypewriter.  

VicEmergency Hotline 
Call 1800 226 226 
Flood, storms, tsunami or earthquake
Victorian State Emergency Service (SES) 
Call 13 25 00 
Workplace emergencies
Worksafe Victoria 
Call 13 23 60
Medical issues
Nurse On-Call
Health information helpline provided by registered nurses.
Call 1300 606 024
Gas and electrical emergencies
To report gas emergencies, call the emergency number on your gas bill for assistance at any time. 

To report fallen electrical power lines and power outages contact your electricity supply company. 

Call (03) 9203 9700  

Maternal and Child Health Line
Family health line for child health, maternal and family health and parenting advice provided by maternal and child health nurses.  

Call 13 22 29

Red Cross Information Line
Find a bushfire relief centre or locate affected family and friends. 

Call 1800 727 077 

Support for accessing phone services
Call the National Relay Service(if you are deaf or find it hard hearing or speaking with people who use a phone) on 1800 555 677 and if you don’t speak English, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50. 

Page last updated Tuesday, December 21 2021


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Victoria Police and family violence organisations urge Victorians to celebrate safely this holiday season

Victoria Police and family violence organisations urge Victorians to celebrate safely this holiday season

Friday 17 December 2021

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While many families celebrate the festive season safely, for others it is the most dangerous time of the year.

More than two thirds of all assaults reported last Christmas Day and New Year’s Day were related to family violence, according to latest figures from the Crime Statistics Agency.

The number of family violence assaults spiked on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, up almost 40 per cent than in the days before and after the two major holidays.

No to Violence, Victoria Police and Safe and Equal are urging Victorians to look after each other this holiday season.

No to Violence Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Watt said police referrals to the Men’s Referral Service spike at this time of year and she encouraged men who are concerned about their behaviour to seek help and keep their loved ones safe this holiday season.

“Everyone has the right to celebrate safely,” Ms Watt said. “The festive season should never be used as an excuse for violence.”

“To anyone who is using family violence or concerned about their behaviour I say this: call the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or chat to us online at ntv.org.au,” Ms Watt said. “It doesn’t have to be like this and we can support you to change your behaviour.”

Crime Statistics Agency and No to Violence Men’s Referral Service figures show:

  • On Christmas Day, 67 per cent of assaults are family violence related;
  • On New Year’s Eve, 58 per cent of assaults are family violence related;
  • On New Year’s Day, 65 per cent of assaults are family violence related;
  • In December 2020, police referrals to the Men’s Referral Service were 20 per cent higher than any other month in the year.

Victoria Police Family Violence Command Assistant Commissioner Lauren Callaway said she knows there will be people who will be very worried about what the holiday period will mean for them.

“They will be thinking about whether there will be violence, whether it will be safe to stay at home, whether there is any money to fund leaving, or whether they can put on a brave face again in front of family and friends,” AC Callaway says.

“My message to everyone is Victoria Police is here to stop family violence. We don’t go on holidays for a reason – we know it’s a high-risk time of the year and we are here 24 hours a day to make you safe.”

Safe and Equal Chief Executive Officer Tania Farha said family violence services are swamped at this time of year due to increased demand.

“The increase in family violence incidences during the Christmas and New Year period is staggering. Specialist family violence services are overwhelmed with calls for help during what should be a happy time of year,” Ms Farha said.

“As well as the Christmas lunch and unwrapping gifts, we’re encouraging everyone to focus on what matters most: each other.

“We can all play our part in looking out for friends, family and neighbours this year by asking the simple question ‘Are you safe at home?’ It just might be the greatest gift of all.”

If you or someone close to you is in immediate danger, dial 000

Advice and counselling for men concerned about their use of family violence: Men’s Referral Service, 1300 766 491

Victorian 24-hour family violence response centre: Victorian Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre, 1800 015 188

24-hour national sexual assault and family violence counselling: 1800RESPECT national helpline, 1800 737 732

Page last updated Friday, December 17 2021


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Wrapping up the 16 Days of Activism

Wrapping up
the 16 Days of Activism

Friday 17 December 2021

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Safe and Equal are incredibly thankful to have partnered with Respect Victoria to deliver this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence grassroots initiative. Read on to learn more about how this year's grant recipients engaged their local communities to Respect Women: Call it Out.

This year, Safe and Equal partnered with Respect Victoria to award 113 grants of $1200 to a wide range of community organisations, who delivered activities and events designed to engage their communities in preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Some of the amazing examples of how these community organisations applied their grant funding include: 

44 grants for social media campaigns 

for print/traditional media campaigns

43 grants to support webinars, seminars, and workshops 

30 grants to support public art installations and exhibitions 

18 grants to run trainings on primary prevention and other topics 

15 grants to create and screen videos 

13 grants for arts/cultural events and activities 

We would like to extend our enormous gratitude to all who have been instrumental in making this campaign happen. Thank you to Respect Victoria for their funding and guidance, as well as to our Project Advisory Group members (Municipal Association of Victoria, No to Violence, Women’s Health Services Council and Victorian Council of Social Services) for their advice, expertise and support, which helped make this year’s campaign a success. 

It has been a big year, and an immensely challenging one at that. We recognise that many of you have been working within a sector that has been disproportionately impacted by the unforeseen challenges of a global pandemic, whilst balancing lockdowns, caring responsibilities and redirected work priorities, amongst many other uncertainties.  

We’d like to thank each and every one of you for the enthusiasm, creativity and commitment demonstrated during this year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign. Your collective efforts are the driving force for change, and we are so thrilled to be working alongside you towards these common goals. 

Image provided by Didi Bahini Samaj

Page last updated Friday, December 17 2021


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Meet our Fast Track participant Krissy Nicholson

Meet our Fast Track participant Krissy Nicholson

Thursday 25 November 2021

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We recently spoke to Krissy Nicholson, a Family Violence Prevention Officer from the City of Casey, about her experiences with the primary prevention stream of the Fast Track program.

Why did you join the Fast Track Program?

I wanted to deepen my knowledge and expand my family violence prevention practice with a group of supportive likeminded professionals.

What have been the key takeaways from Fast Track for you?

Fast Track allowed me the space and time to reflect on core components of family violence prevention and focus on how to put this evidence base into practice. My favourite session was focussing on Intersectionality, where I was provided additional tools and resources to ensure it is prioritised in my work. I also loved the extensive list of resources available and the opportunity to work alongside a great group of people across the sector. The mentorship program was an added bonus!

Since starting Fast Track, how do you think you’ve developed as a practitioner?

This program enabled me to consolidate my learnings and strengthen the theory that supports my work. It has provided an opportunity for me to learn from experts and think about how to apply learnings into my own practice. I have also loved the mentor process in which I have space and time to really dissect and discuss some of the more nuanced complexities in this work.

What’s next for you?

I am very excited to be working with a team to develop the City of Casey’s new Gender Equality and Family Violence Prevention Strategy. I am looking forward to embedding the learnings and resources from the Fast Track course into its development.

What advice do you have for someone new to primary prevention?

Prevention work is inspiring, diverse, challenging, and empowering. However, we are playing the long game. Change takes time so celebrate small successes and look after yourself along the way. Build and utilise networks, have patience, and also have a sense of humour.

Learn more about the Fast Track program here.

Page last updated Thursday, December 2 2021


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