Media coverage

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We provide expert commentary on issues related to family, domestic and gender-based violence in the Victorian context.

For media enquiries or to arrange an interview call 0450 081 547 or email media@safeandequal.org.au.

2022

Family violence experts call out questioning of Ajla Tomljanovic over past relationship with Nick Kyrgios
7 July 2022

Tania Farha, CEO of Safe and Equal, Victoria’s peak body for family violence, agreed.

“Not only does the question diminish her achievements, it sends a broader message that women’s accomplishments in sport are not as important as the personal life of a male athlete,” she said.

Most problematic, argued Farha, was the fact the question reinforced a common myth about violence against women.

“The tendency for the media and public commentary to want to validate a man’s character sends the message that [alleged] violence can be excused if you’re a good bloke,” Farha said.

“This happens in lots of ways, including seeking out women to provide that validation.

“Often, in the media, you read that violence is out of character, or that [the perpetrator] was under pressure or just snapped, and I think all of this reinforces the message that men are not responsible for their actions, and that the women surrounding them must preserve and protect their reputation.”

ABC News

Government drops Coalition-appointed commissioner days before job begins
30 June 2022

Louise Simms, an executive director of Victorian peak body Safe and Equal, wants to see the plan articulate the roles and responsibilities of each level of government, leading to concrete actions and targets.

“We didn’t see this in the consultation draft released earlier this year, and we’d prefer the new government takes some time to get it right rather than rushing to get something out to meet a deadline,” she said.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Delays and high demand hamper payments to escape domestic violence
12 May 2022

The head of the sector’s Victorian peak body Safe and Equal, Tania Farha, said financial support was integral to helping women leave abusive situations but any scheme had to be flexible and accessible.

“We’ve been hearing from our own members, and also from colleagues in other states and territories, that there are some real challenges with how these payments are being rolled out,” she said.

Foster and Farha said it shouldn’t be an either-or proposition, and both emergency payments and paid leave had a place.

“There’s no single solution here to this,” Farha said.

“It’s a really complicated and complex issue. And the solution has to be commensurately comprehensive and holistic.”

The Sydney Morning Herald

Tania Farha interview on ABC Mornings with Virginia Trioli
10 May 2022

Safe and Equal CEO speaks to ABC Mornings host Virginia Trioli on the Are You Safe At Home? campaign.

ABC Radio (interview from 39:05)

Signs of domestic abuse trigger 'are you safe at home?' question from concerned parent
10 May 2022

The peak body for specialist family violence services in Victoria, Safe and Equal, is encouraging people to ask the question: are you safe at home?

Chief executive Tania Farha said family violence was everyone’s business and asking the question could be life-changing.

“So many victim-survivors have told us how meaningful it was to have someone in their life ask them, ‘are you safe at home?’,” she said.

She said people who used violence were experts at isolating, controlling and eroding self-esteem to make their victims feel afraid to speak out or seek help.

“Having someone in your life name what you’re experiencing as violence, believe you and offer non-judgemental support, that can make all the difference,” Ms Farha said.

ABC News

'I desperately want to be there for her': How to help a friend experiencing family violence
10 May 2022

As the CEO of Safe and Equal Tania Farha noted – friends, family members, colleagues and the community play a crucial role in identifying abuse and supporting loved ones to safety. And throughout history, there still seems to be a stigma attached to the idea of asking for help. But Tania hopes people know help is always available.

“The important role that loved ones play has been especially key during the pandemic. In 2020, during the first rounds of restrictions and lockdowns, family violence services reported a dramatic rise in the number of ‘third parties’ – friends and family – reaching out about someone they were worried may be in danger,” she said to Mamamia.

Tania also recommended looking at the Are You Safe At Home? website. It’s designed to break down the fear associated with talking about family violence by providing clear information on how to start a conversation if you’re concerned someone you care about is experiencing abuse.

Mamamia

'Are you safe at home?': Five words that freed Aussie mum from violent relationship
10 May 2022

Article featuring survivor advocate Geraldine Bilston, for Are You Safe At Home? Day 2022.

News.com.au

My mum knew about my DV relationship. But she didn't have the words to help me
9 May 2022

Op-ed by survivor advocate Geraldine Bilston to commemorate Are You Safe At Home? Day 2022.

Mamamia

Katherine Deves walks back her apology over 'insensitive' comments about trans children
9 May 2022

Louise Simms, executive director at Safe and Equal Victoria, said the debate is exacerbating transphobic behaviour.

“People are becoming bolder in their expressions of these attitudes and I think having it play out publicly is giving people in communities some more confidence to express these attitudes,” she told SBS News.

SBS News

'We all deserve dignity': Key groups call for an end to divisive debate on transgender issues
6 May 2022

Louise Simms, executive director at Safe and Equal Victoria, said the threat of violence was front of mind.

“Violence is driven by rigid stereotypes and norms, [and] discrimination and divisive attitudes like this, so this is a real concern for us.” she told SBS News.

She also says the debate is exacerbating transphobic behaviour.

“People are becoming bolder in their expressions of these attitudes and I think having it play out publicly is giving people in communities some more confidence to express these attitudes,” she said.

SBS News

Regional Victorian family violence on rise amid fears government funding ‘isn’t enough’
14 March 2022

This year’s federal budget allocated $1.3 billion in women’s safety, up from $238 million in 2020.

That funding will then be quartered by four pillars; prevention, early intervention, response and recovery.

The $771 million left for women and children to escape family violence will be stretched across 2.2 million victims nationally, according to an ABS survey.

Miss Farha says it’s not enough with violence against women costing Australia $21.7 billion per year when considering the number of services and people that it impacts.

She said state and federal governments needed to invest in the specialist family workforce with a focus on getting more specialist practitioners out to rural and regional areas.

Miss Farha also said the budget lacked any clear strategy to achieve real systemic change and worried it might not reach the women and children who need it.

The Herald Sun (subscriber content)

Maria Dimopoulos AM appointed new Board Chair of Safe and Equal
21 February 2022

Maria Dimopoulos AM has been appointed the new Board Chair of Safe and Equal and will commence her role in February 2022. Maria is taking over from Stacey Ong, who has led Safe and Equal’s Board as Interim Chair since September 2021.

Maria said she looks forward to supporting the great work of Safe and Equal, “in particular the partnerships with First Nations communities and organisations.”

“I am committed to governing Safe and Equal with an intersectional feminist lens as a way to expose uneven power relations and structural oppressions, in order to support gender equality and social justice,” Maria said in a press release.

Maria has made significant contributions to policy development, research and community education, including as a member of the federal Access and Equity Inquiry Panel, and as the inaugural Chairperson of the Harmony Alliance – Australia’s national coalition of migrant and refugee women.

Maria was also part of the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children, which oversaw the development of the First National Plan to End Violence against Women and their Children.

The CEO of Safe and Equal, Tania Farha, has welcomed Maria’s appointment.

“Maria is a lauded human rights advocate and champion of diversity and gender equality,” Tania said.

“Her extensive experience and expertise, particularly around the rights and meaningful inclusion of women from migrant and refugee backgrounds in policy and system reform, aligns strongly with our strategic goals and purpose.”

The Greek Herald

Safe and Equal partners with Berry Street to create practitioner resources around family violence
3 February 2021

Organisations including Djirra, Berry Street’s Y-Change Lived Experience Consultants, Switchboard, inTouch, Women with Disabilities Victoria, Seniors Rights Victoria, and Flatout worked with Safe and Equal on the project.

“Family violence is an intersectional social problem with far-reaching impacts that reinforce structural disadvantage and marginalisation across many different communities,” a Safe and Equal spokesperson explained.

“While family violence can impact anyone, there are social, structural and systemic barriers caused by historic and ongoing discrimination that has seen certain groups excluded from or unable to access services, government programs, and equitable justice responses.”

 

The Sector

2021

This section includes media coverage of Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic) and Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV) prior to the merge to form Safe and Equal.

Domestic violence expected to spike over Christmas and New Years
20 December 2021

Safe and Equal chief executive officer Tania Farha said family violence services were swamped during the holiday season, and the increase in family violence incidents was “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 might just be the greatest gift of all.”

Bendigo Advertiser

Christmas can be a frightening time of year for some families
19 December 2021

Safe and equal chief executive officer Tania Farha said family violence services were swamped during the holiday season, and the increase in family violence incidents was “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 might just be the greatest gift of all.”

Sunraysia Daily

A high risk time of year for many at risk of family violence
18 December 2021

Safe and Equal chief executive officer, Tania Farha, said family violence services were typically swamped at this time of year due to increased demand for support.

“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 might just be the greatest gift of all.”

The Courier

Police launch unit to investigate domestic abusers within the force
1 December 2021

Safe and Equal chief executive Tania Farha welcomed the launch.

“How the policy and investigation units are implemented is critically important, and we look forward to seeing the additional safeguards Victoria Police will employ to ensure that victim survivor safety and perpetrator accountability underpin implementation and administration,” she said.

“There has to be a high level of transparency to build trust in this policy and the investigation units. This includes making data publicly available about the prevalence of police-perpetrated family violence and, where possible, trend analysis of investigation outcomes.”

The Age

Victorian domestic violence groups unite for greater impact
23 November 2021

The new peak body for domestic violence in Victoria has officially launched, promising to deliver stronger and better resourced services supporting victim survivors of domestic abuse in Victoria.

The official launch of Safe and Equal comes after the boards and members of DV Vic and DVRCV voted to merge in March 2020. Backed by over 30 years of combined experience in advocacy and innovation for change in the family violence sector, the peak body’s focus will be on increasing and strengthening its capacity to support specialist services through an ever-changing landscape.

Safe and Equal CEO, Tania Farha, said that it was a partnership that made sense.

“The roles of DV Vic and DVRCV have always been highly complementary, with closely aligned visions, purpose and values, and frequent collaboration in advocacy and campaigning,” Farha said.

“This merger provides the specialist family violence sector with a peak organisation that has more reach than ever before, across the continuum of prevention to recovery.”

The name was selected following extensive consultation and feedback from victim survivors, and represents the organisation’s vision; a world beyond family and gender-based violence, where women, children and all people from marginalised communities are safe, thriving and respected.

Pro Bono Australia

Strangulation, a red flag for murder, but law yet to be implemented
17 November 2021

Domestic Violence Victoria and Domestic Violence Resource Centre chief executive Tania Farha said initiatives that put more attention on how non-fatal strangulation is connected to family violence risk and serious harm would be welcomed.

“To end family violence we need robust, collaborative responses from across the community and services. This can’t be limited to just the justice system,” Ms Farha said.

“Strangulation has grave consequences and is a serious risk factor when it comes to family violence, which needs more emphasis in policy, practice and training for service providers and police.”

The Age

Sex crimes skyrocket by 300 per cent in Greater Shepparton
3 October 2021

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria executive director Louise Simms said there were further barriers for people experiencing family violence in regional areas.

“So there are fewer services to access and there are all kinds of particular experiences and barriers that might not apply to people living in cities which can be exacerbated during the pandemic,” she said.

“These statistics refer to reports to police and we know that any increase in reports to police is likely to be amplified when it comes to the actual experience of family violence and the increase in service demand.

“So what we know from specialist family violence services in Victoria is that demand has increased absolutely exponentially and services are extremely stretched.”

The Herald Sun

Knox crime: Family violence on the rise
30 September 2021

Domestic Violence Victoria and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria executive director Louise Simms said the rise in family violence incidents wasn’t surprising.

“We’ve been seeing this increase both in the data and anecdotally our services have been telling us for a while they’ve been seeing an increase (in family violence), in particular over the last couple of years during Covid,” she said.

The Herald Sun

Ballarat crime: The shocking offence rising in Ballarat
30 September 2021

Domestic Violence Victoria and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria executive director Louise Simms said family violence was worse in regional areas.

“People experiencing family violence in rural and regional areas, there are further barriers to accessing services anyway, so there are fewer services to access and there are all kinds of particular experiences and barriers that might not apply to people living in cities which can be exacerbated during the pandemic,” she said.

“These statistics refer to reports to police and we know that any increase in reports to police is likely to be amplified when it comes to the actual experience of family violence and the increase in service demand.

“So what we know from specialist family violence services in Victoria is that demand has increased absolutely exponentially and services are extremely stretched.”

The Herald Sun

Rosie Batty joins family violence experts' calls to prioritise preventing coercive control
17 September 2021

“Primary prevention is a universal approach — it’s about changing the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that sit behind violence,” said Tania Farha, chief executive of Domestic Violence Victoria and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre, which doesn’t support the introduction of a coercive control offence at this stage.

“Irrespective of what happens in the criminalisation space, this is a real opportunity for us to work in primary prevention to stop this behaviour from emerging in the first place,” Ms Farha said. “It’s where we can have a really long lasting impact.”

ABC News

Family sexual abuse rates are soaring during the pandemic, damning new figures show
24 June 2021

Domestic Violence Victoria told the inquiry that “opportunities for perpetrators to isolate, monitor and control victim-survivors have exponentially increased’’ as a result of lockdowns. “At the same time, many protective factors, such as contact with family and friends and the ability to leave the home and family violence to go to work, school or access child care, have all but vanished,’’ it stated. “The closure of businesses and loss of jobs over an extended period of time, has meant that these risk factors for family violence during this disaster are likely to be more acute.’’

The Herald Sun

Sara wants Victoria to criminalise coercive control, but family violence and legal experts are split on the issue
15 June 2021

Tania Farha, chief executive of Domestic Violence Victoria and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, says the royal commission reforms should be implemented before additional changes are considered.

“I think everyone would agree that we need a whole-of-system approach to improve responses to coercive control,” Ms Farha says.

“Here in Victoria, a new law isn’t the starting point for this.

“Coercive control is enshrined in Victoria’s legal definition of family violence, and before introducing new laws, it is important to analyse and understand how existing laws are applied.”

ABC News

Spike in family violence reports recorded as Victoria eased out of lockdown
14 May 2021

Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Tania Farha said abused people faced more barriers to access support during lockdown.

“For example, finding a time and space where they were alone and could contact a service without their abuser knowing,” she said.

“Something we saw increase during the lockdowns was more people like friends and family reaching out to services about people they were concerned about.”

She said specialist family violence services adapted quickly to the pandemic, with many operating remotely, including crisis responses, emergency accommodation, case management, counselling and other services.

“It’s important that people know services are still operating during lockdowns and it’s lawful to leave home if you’re at risk of violence, at every level of restrictions,” she said.

Sydney Morning Herald

From Love, Actually to Love, Simon, how we think about romantic pursuit is changing
3 April 2021

Male entitlement, stereotyping and gender inequality can be drivers of intimate partner violence, according to Domestic Violence Victoria.

ABC News

‘You still battle’: Rosie Batty on five years of family violence action
28 March 2021

Tania Farha, CEO of the newly merged peak family violence body DVRCV, says it was Batty’s bravery in speaking out, “joining the calls of many strong advocates before her and inspiring the many survivors who are speaking out now”, that created a catalyst for the royal commission.

“Her experience of family violence, and her efforts to protect her son, Luke, and herself is a story shared by many victim survivors,” says Farha. “Rosie has a way of telling her story and speaking about family violence in plain language that struck a chord with everyday Australians.”

”Rosie transformed her grief into an incredible force for change, and she has continued to give so much through her advocacy.”

The Age

Police undergoing a ‘significant cultural shift’ on family violence
28 March 2021

Tania Farha, head of Domestic Violence Victoria, said the huge increase in reports to police (a record 92,521 reports last year) reflected a level of community confidence in police, but consistency was an issue.

“[Police] have made a series of efforts to try and build that consistency across the system, but there’s so many call-outs it’s got to be a general response in the first instance and getting 15,000 members to have a consistent response is not easy,” Ms Farha said.

The Age

New coercive control laws to fight financial abuse, domestic violence
20 March 2021

The CEO of peak body Domestic Violence Victoria Tania Farha told News Corp Australia economic abuse was one of the least recognised and understood forms of family violence, so it was difficult to accurately determine its prevalence.

“Research suggests it occurs in 50-90 per cent of family violence cases,’’ Ms Farha said.

“Economic abuse can be a barrier to leaving a violent partner or recovering from family violence.

“In most cases, victim survivors never fully recover financially from family violence.’’

Ms Farha said tactics of economic abuse included preventing a partner or family member from earning or having access to money, refusing to contribute to shared expenses, forcing them to take on debts, prolonged family court proceedings or non-payment of child support.

“Coercive control is a defining feature of all types of family violence. Economic abuse is one way perpetrators gain control over their victims and will often be used together with other tactics of violence and abuse in a pattern of coercive control,’’ she said.

“Fortunately, many banks and services are becoming aware of these tactics and working to provide solutions.’’

Ms Farha called for better resourcing of the systemic response to family violence, to better respond to coercive control and economic abuse including the different tactics of abuse.

“Victim survivors of family violence can experience ongoing abuse after separating from their partner, which can have extreme economic impacts,’’ she said.

“Within the Family Court, for example, prolonging family court proceedings, hiding assets, stalling joint property or debt settlements, and not paying child support are all tactics perpetrators use to continue exerting control over their victim. Research has shown that victims of family violence will often settle for less than what they are entitled to in order to avoid ongoing control and abuse.‘’

The Daily Telegraph

Vic lockdown prompts mental health concern
12 February 2021

Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Tania Farha said her message to the community was brief but vital. “People experiencing family violence can still leave home even during a lockdown,” she told AAP. “It’s absolutely lawful during restrictions.”

Seven News

Victorian premier Dan Andrews announces Covid lockdown – as it happened
12 February 2021

Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Tania Farha said her message to the community was brief but vital. “People experiencing family violence can still leave home even during a lockdown,” she told AAP. “It’s absolutely lawful during restrictions.”

The Guardian

2020

Increase in ambulance call-outs fuels fresh family violence concerns
2 December 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Tania Farha said specialist family violence services had seen an increase in the frequency, severity and complexity of family violence incidents during the pandemic.

“For some victim-survivors, the violence has intensified and become more prolonged during the pandemic,” she said. “Others are reporting family violence for the first time. Specialist family violence services also report that they are getting an increased number of calls from third parties, such as friends and family, who are concerned about their loved ones.”

She said that people are finding ways to use the pandemic to justify abusive and controlling behaviours, and new forms of violence emerged. “Isolating someone from family and friends is a very common tactic in family violence. Pandemic restrictions are providing perpetrators with more opportunities to force victim-survivors to isolate from their family, friends and other community support networks, as well as support they might otherwise find in their workplaces.”

The Age

Debate rages among family violence campaigners over criminalising coercive control
26 November 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria CEO Tania Farha said the possible impacts of criminalising coercive control, as with all policy reform, needed to be carefully weighed up. “We call on the Attorney-General and the Victorian government to listen to all voices to ensure the full range of possible impacts are fully considered including any unintended consequences.”

The Age

GPS trackers, hidden cameras on the rise as domestic violence increases during pandemic
24 November 2020

Tania Farha, the chief executive of Domestic Violence Victoria and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, said some victims had suffered more intense and prolonged abuse during 2020. “Others are reporting family violence for the first time,” she said. “Specialist family violence services also report that they are getting an increased number of calls from third parties, such as friends and family, who are concerned about their loved ones.”

ABC News

Victorians have been promised the 'biggest and most significant' state budget. Here's what interest groups want
22 November 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Tania Farha said the pandemic exacerbated problems that existed prior to COVID-19.

The organisation is pleading with the Andrews government for increased funding to hire more case workers and give the workforce a pay rise, money to upgrade technology and equipment, ongoing funding to implement all the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence and funds to build more social housing.

“We know that, across the board, emergencies like natural disasters increase the frequency and severity of family violence,” Ms Farha said. “COVID-19 is no exception and the specialist family violence sector needs to be resourced to respond to demand during the COVID-19 recovery and any future outbreaks or other disasters.”

The Age

Brave Rosie celebrates son stolen from her
26 October 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria chief Tania Farha says that while the number of survivors seeking help had spiked since the lockdown restrictions were introduced, services were available for those who need assistance.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, specialist family violence services have seen an increase in first-time reports, the violence has been more severe,” she says.

“People who choose to use violence are finding ways to use the pandemic to justify abusive and controlling behaviours. Isolating someone from family and friends is a very common tactic in family violence.

“The most important thing for people to know is that services are still operating, supports are available and it is lawful to leave home to escape violence – during all stages of restrictions.”

The Australian

Domestic violence victims to be protected from insidious abuse
26 October 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria CEO Tania Farha said coercive control was a “grave and complex issue” and new laws would need to be carefully considered.

“It’s very common for perpetrators to use coercive control, or an ongoing pattern of controlling behaviour, along with forms of physical violence,” she said.

“They often ‘start small’ and slowly tighten their control, while continually working to undermine their victim’s confidence or sense of safety, and cut them off from potential sources of support or information.”

…Ms Farha said: “It’s particularly important to consider how any new laws might affect people who experience multiple forms of discrimination, and to ensure we don’t lose sight of victim survivors who choose not to engage with the justice system.”

Herald Sun

Family violence workers burnt out in midst of 'shadow pandemic'
20 October 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria, the state’s peak body for family violence services, was working with the state government to provide and expand specialist counselling and support for family violence workers, chief executive Tania Farha said. “Specialist family violence services for experiencing family violence can be the difference between life and death. Adequate support for the workers providing these services must be prioritised,” Ms Farha said.

The Age

Feminist family violence chief has 'lived experiences that shaped my life'
17 October 2020

Tania Farha, CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria told The Sunday Age she welcomed Ms Callaway’s appointment: “In particular, we welcome the promotion of a woman with such relevant experience to such an important senior role within Victoria Police.”

The Age

Coronavirus: Alarm at rise in home violence
15 October 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria has said perpetrators are using the pandemic to prevent their partners and children from leaving home, while withholding basic items such as food, medicine and hand sanitiser to control their victims during the pandemic.

The Australian

Vulnerable Victorians become ‘collateral damage’ during fight against coronavirus
8 October 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria warned perpetrators were stopping family members from leaving the home, hiding essential items such as food and medical documents and even threatening to expose children to the coronavirus.

Factors including financial stress, unemployment, feeling trapped or uncertain about the future have been identified as contributors to the increase or onset of violence in homes.

Herald Sun

‘I knew I needed an escape plan.’ The reality of leaving an abusive relationship in 2020
30 September 2020

Tania Farha, the CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria, tells Mamamia: “The pandemic restrictions are providing perpetrators with more opportunities for victim-survivors to isolate from their family, friends, other community support networks, as well as support they might otherwise find in their workplaces.” During this pandemic there has also been an increase in first-time reporters of family violence, Farha says. She adds that with the economic fallout of coronavirus, perpetrators are “tightening controls over finances and we’re seeing increases in financial abuse”.

“Victim-survivors are facing increased barriers to access support, for example finding time and space when they’re alone,” the CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria explains. “It can be hard to contact services without their abusers knowing.”“Hence it is really important to let people know that services are still open.

MamaMia

Record family violence offences and COVID fines drive crime rate surge
24 September 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Tania Farha said the rise in cases came after Victoria Police had tried to break down the barriers for victims to seek help following the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

“We are anticipating a surge in demand for specialist family violence support when restrictions end and as Victoria begins down the road to recovery from the pandemic,” she said.

She said the surge was expected partly because of the gendered impacts of other elements of the pandemic response, which have seen women disproportionately suffer economic losses.

The Age

Victoria’s family violence killers sentenced to less jail time than those who commit random murders
21 September 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria CEO Tania Farha said family violence was historically viewed as a private issue and the criminal justice system was not originally designed to respond adequately.

Ms Farha said progress had been made over the years, mostly through feminist advocacy and from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, but many myths and victim-blaming attitudes remained, which led to family violence crime being viewed as less serious than offences against strangers.

“Family violence is a complex issue, for which there is yet to be a perfect criminal justice response. Differences in sentencing expose the limitations of the criminal justice system in being able to deliver just outcomes in family violence matters,” she said.

Herald Sun

Coronavirus has made financial abuse more common, experts say. Here's what to do about it
15 August 2020

“Economic abuse is really pervasive where family violence is present,” said Alison Macdonald, the CEO Of Domestic Violence Victoria.

“It’s one tactic to manifest power and control over someone else.”…

“The pandemic is being used to justify their controlling behaviours — things like limiting access to money, controlling someone’s ability to acquire and use money, or making threats about the family’s economic security,” Ms Macdonald explained…

Unfortunately, some abusers are also using programs like the Early Release of Super Scheme to control their partner’s finances.

“We are really concerned about what it means as we know it will undermine their financial security later in life,” Ms Macdonald said.

ABC News

Reborn White Ribbon's new boss puts faith in goodwill, and Rosie Batty
30 July 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria’s Alison Macdonald said the signs were positive for the new White Ribbon and its intention to collaborate and be accountable to the sector was critical.

“They’re a new organisation effectively rebuilding from the ground-up. They’ve inherited an incredibly huge audience,” she said.

“So they can really do some good work by leveraging on that reach.”

She said every time White Ribbon began a campaign, it would drive more people to seek help.

“It’s chronically under-resourced frontline agencies that always have to provide the safety net for people at risk who … seek changes in their life,” she said.

“It’s a really good thing, but it can’t be done in isolation.”

The Age

Domestic abusers withold food, medicine during pandemic
22 July 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria acting policy unit manager Alison Birchall said perpetrators are using the pandemic to prevent victims from leaving home.

In the worst cases offenders are threatening to expose children to COVID-19 to control their partners.

“An extension of that is perpetrators controlling medication and health documents and financial support like Medicare or bank cards so victims don’t have options for escaping,” Ms Birchall said…. Ms Birchall said it was harder for victims to seek help or escape with more perpetrators in the home….Ms Birchall said one positive development to emerge from the crisis was an increase in calls by friends, family and neighbours to family violence support services.

Herald Sun

Slow drip of domestic violence funding ‘not good enough’
19 July 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Alison McDonald said that, while the state’s sector was better funded than that in NSW thanks to reforms that emerged from the royal commission into violence against women, service providers were worried about the impact of Melbourne’s latest stage-three lockdown.

“Family violence thrives in isolation and at the moment everybody’s isolated,” she said.

“Men who use violence are weaponising the pandemic to further perpetuate power and control … It gives them an excuse to enforce that control.”

Being trapped at home with a violent or controlling family member made it tricky for people experiencing domestic violence to reach out over the phone, she said. The Victorian sector expected another spike when Melbourne came out of lockdown again.

Ms McDonald said the delaying of Victoria’s state’s budget until later this year had left the sector uncertain about whether it would have “sustainable, long term funding”.

“Normally, by midyear, we’d know what programs will continue to be funded,” she said.

Sydney Morning Herald

'Urgent need': Violent men facing delays in getting help amid pandemic
16 July 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria acting chief executive Alison Macdonald said the programs are valuable, but cannot be the only approach to hold perpetrators to account.

“We need a range of interventions and means for a system to work together to keep men’s behaviour in view and hold them accountable,” she said.

The Age

Chief Medical Officer backs Victoria’s lockdown of ‘vertical cruise ship’ towers
5 July 2020

“There will be women, kids and vulnerable people living with family violence in the locked down public housing estates. They must be allowed to seek support and leave if their safety is at risk.”

SBS News

Victoria Police, minister apologise to domestic violence victim after 'appalling' privacy breach
17 June 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria acting chief executive Alison Macdonald said victims of police family violence faced “additional barriers to reporting and accessing safety”.

They are calling for alternative reporting avenues and additional safeguards to be put in place to ensure the safety of spouses of police officers is prioritised and investigations are trauma-informed.

“The way the system currently operates, it relies on victim-survivors reaching out to the perpetrator’s employer and potentially his colleagues for help and then trust that she will be treated fairly,” Ms Macdonald said.

“This can be an unreasonable expectation to place on victim-survivors when there’s a lack of transparency and accountability in the process.”

ABC News

New domestic violence inquiry to probe national failures in keeping victims safe
1 June 2020

“We were a bit surprised by the new inquiry because there have been many and we haven’t necessarily seen the recommended changes in various different areas being implemented,” said Alison McDonald, chief executive of Domestic Violence Victoria, the peak body for specialist family violence services supporting victim-survivors. “Having said that, the terms of reference look comprehensive and sound so, to that end, I hope it will be a comprehensive inquiry that looks into some of the structural problems that remain particularly at the Commonwealth level.”

Ms McDonald said such issues included Australia’s lack of affordable housing — “One of the greatest barriers to victims seeking freedom from violence” — and the particular vulnerability of victims on temporary visas, many of whom are unable to access crucial support services like housing, Centrelink and Medicare.

“That’s something that really needs to be reformed through the immigration system,” she said.

“One other area we’d be keen for the inquiry to look at, particularly in light of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, is there is a lot overlap there with disability services and family and sexual violence … it’s really important we look at family violence within our disability systems as well.”

ABC News

Domestic violence services prepare for demand as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease
1 May 2020

Alison Macdonald, acting chief executive of Domestic Violence Victoria, said there was clear evidence a surge in demand was coming.

“We know from international evidence that there are spikes in family violence in post emergency and post crisis situations,” she said.

“We know that from Australian experience with bushfires, with floods and with cyclones.

“Of course, we haven’t seen a crisis of this nature before, but if we apply what we know from other emergency situations, I think we are anticipating to see a surge in demand once social restrictions are lifted.”

Ms Macdonald told the ABC the coronavirus pandemic had already changed how domestic violence support was being offered, and that would have to continue even as restrictions were eased.

“Services have been quite extraordinary in moving their work to remote, online, and telephone-based platforms in response to the pandemic, and so that we can ensure there’s service continuity during this period,” she said.

ABC News

Helping women at risk of domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic
6 April 2020

“Think of the COVID-19 restrictions as an opportunity to re-engage with your friends who might be unsafe, using your own social isolation as an explanation for why you’re calling more often than usual,” suggests Alison Macdonald, acting CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria. You can help with her safety plan by offering to keep copies of her important documents or storing an “escape bag” for them, Ms Macdonald says.

“You could also agree on a safe word, sign or signal that the person experiencing family violence can use to alert you that they need you to get help; for example, a turned-on porch light, drawn shade, or an ‘I can’t come over on Thursday after all’ phone call,” she suggests.

ABC News

Domestic Violence Victoria calls for more help to cope with increased demand during coronavirus pandemic
31 March 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria spokeswoman Alison Birchall said increased time spent at home could exasperate volatile family situations and prove dangerous to victims.

She called on the state and federal government’s to provide more money so services could cope with the predicted increase in demand.

“Our concern is that family violence will increase in terms of frequency and severity during the coronavirus pandemic,” Ms Birchall said.

“While we’ve never experienced anything like this before and there’s no specific data out there regarding family violence and public health emergencies…what we do realise is patterns do change.”

Herald Sun

Violent Perpetrators Are Using The Coronavirus As An Excuse For Domestic Abuse, Frontline Workers Say
30 March 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria acting chief executive Alison Macdonald agreed women are at risk of surveillance, and that isolation is a risk factor in family violence.

“[Isolation] is a tactic that perpetrators use to enable them to control and surveil their family members and we’re particularly worried about what that will mean for people in abusive relationships who might become more isolated from friends and family,” Macdonald told BuzzFeed News.

She said the evidence, both in Australia and internationally, shows an increase in the “onset, frequency and severity” of family violence in the wake of disasters and emergencies.

“We know it from the bushfires and floods here, we know it from the Christchurch earthquake and we know it from the hurricanes in the United States,”she said.

As well, the recent horrific, high profile murder of Hannah Clarke and her children had driven a clear increase in demand for services. It generated the highest number of calls and website queries to family violence hotline 1800RESPECT recorded in any one day.

Macdonald said emergency situations “show up where the really big pressure points” are in the system, and that the sector was preparing as best it could for the coming months. But it is a highly gendered workforce and there are “a lot of women affected by having kids at home” as schools close across the state.

“There will probably be a move to online and phone-based support but we want to send a strong message to the community that these services are still here,” she said.

Figures released last week show one family violence victim is killed or is the target of an ­attempted murder every ­fortnight in Victoria. One frontline worker told the ABC she had received six reports in one week of men using the new coronavirus to threaten and coerce women by lying about visitors, or themselves, having COVID-19.

Macdonald said there was evidence during disaster periods that people reverted to more “rigid gender norms”.

“So there can be a lot of pressure on men, for example, to provide for their families and for women to just shut up and put up with it,” she said. “Those kinds of very gendered understandings of how we react and we respond to emergency situations can really be exacerbated and heightened and that in itself creates the underlying conditions that enable violence against women to continue.”

Buzzfeed

Domestic Violence: Services scramble to support victims during coronavirus
24 March 2020

Alison Macdonald, CEO of Domestic Violence Violence, admitted there were infrastructure concerns of how the family violence workforce would adapt but stressed the importance victim-survivors knew help was still available and planning was underway to provide pandemic-operational crisis accommodation. “People need to know it’s business as usual – you can still contact support services. There will be a response there for you to safety plan, particularly in this period when we’re probably pre-peak in terms of the pandemic so our systems are still operational and contingency plans are underway,” said Macdonald.

The Daily Telegraph

Court closure ‘not an option’ in face of family violence spike
22 March 2020

Domestic Violence Victoria’s acting chief executive Alison Macdonald said the focus was ensuring the services were upstanding during the pandemic. “The system is moving very fast to make sure they continue to provide a response through this period,” she said.

Sydney Morning Herald

Virus prompts domestic violence warnings
17 March 2020

Likewise, Domestic Violence Victoria acting chief executive Alison Macdonald said enforced isolation could see a rise in domestic violence cases. This occurred during natural disasters, with the coronavirus another unprecedented event, Ms Macdonald told AAP. Frontline workers needed more support and service providers needed more pointers on hygiene practices or what to do if facing staff shortages, she said. “We absolutely need to put out some advice for accommodation providers,” Ms Macdonald said. Ms Macdonald said she would be looking to have a domestic violence sector briefing with Victorian authorities this week.

Seven News

How philanthropy can help tackle the scourge of family violence
17 March 2020

Opinion piece by Emma Morgan, project coordinator of The Family Violence Philanthropy Collaboration Project.

Pro Bono News

Women and children are being forced into homelessness because of social housing shortage
16 March 2020

A powerful coalition of family violence and homelessness support services warns women and children are at risk because the Andrews Government is failing to ­deliver enough social housing.

Domestic Violence Victoria, the Salvation Army and the Council to Homeless Persons are among dozens of groups demanding the government boosts housing supply to meet recommendations of the family violence royal commission, which finished four years ago.

Herald Sun

Victorian family violence victims left homeless after seeking help
10 March 2020

Alison Macdonald, spokesperson for Domestic Violence Victoria, added that a lack of social housing was putting vulnerable women at risk.

“We know that becoming homeless is one of the most common reasons women and children are forced to return to violent relationships,” Macdonald said.

Pro Bono News

2019

Family violence incidents in Boroondara on the rise
21 October 2019

Domestic Violence Victoria spokeswoman Alison Birchall said family violence figures were in reality higher and a stigma of victim blaming meant the crime often went unreported.

Victims also found the judicial process of making a statement and attending court daunting, while others risked putting themselves in more danger by trying to leave, she said.

“There’s a lot of pressure still on victims of domestic violence to put up with the violence, to not split up the family and to maintain the status quo,” Ms Birchall said.

Violence affected people from all backgrounds regardless of their level of education or socio-economic status, she said, and support services typically saw a rise in demand over the summer holiday period.

“Everyone has the right to live a life free of family violence,” she said.

“Often it’s not just Christmas itself, often it’s the period after Christmas where the woman has resolved to hold things together until Christmas so the kids can have some sort of Christmas, and then it’s just after Christmas they decide to seek help.”

Herald Sun

Family violence support groups frustrated by limited housing options three years on from royal commission
20 October 2019

Housing is considered one of the most critical issues facing those fleeing from family violence, Domestic Violence Victoria acting chief executive Alison Macdonald said, because a victim may stay in an unsafe situation without a place to go. “When they’re considering their options, the question of having a secure house for them and their children may be their very first consideration,” she said. “[Stable housing] creates an environment for going to work and creating economic independence [and] to create a safe situation for children.”

Domain

Wei Hu, 40, and Yingying Zhou, 36, named as couple killed in Nunawading suspected murder-suicide
19 September 2019

Domestic Violence Victoria acting chief executive Alison Macdonald said Saturday’s shocking attack was a reminder of the toll of family violence.

“This case obviously had some particularly horrific implications for the child involved,” she said.

“While there is absolutely no place for complacency, it is a reminder of the scale of the work to turn this around.

“We remain hopeful that we will see a decrease in both the prevalence family violence in our communities and the number of women who are murdered.

“We don’t want people to think that because we had a royal commission and a lot of government investment that the work is done and dusted.

“It is not the time to take the foot off the pedal … as cases like this remind us, we still have a long way to go.”

Herald Sun

Spyware and GPS tracking: the next frontier for family violence
23 August 2019

Alison Macdonald, acting Chief Executive Officer of Domestic Violence Victoria, agrees this kind of surveillance is now ubiquitous – which makes it doubly hard for workers in the sector.

“Every couple of weeks we are hearing about new forms of spyware and GPS tracking – and other ways in which privacy can be breached. It’s nearly impossible to stay abreast of the new technology.”

Sydney Morning Herald

3AW and Crocmedia end relationships with Scott Cummings after podcast comments
2 July 2019

Acting CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria, Alison Macdonald, said comments like Cummings’ could lead to more serious issues when they went unchecked.

“Flippant comments degrading women are often dismissed as trivial, harmless and even funny, however the evidence tells us that these attitudes contribute towards the social conditions that allow family violence and violence against women to continue unabated,” she said.

She hid in a dog kennel to escape, but three days later Kylie Cay died on her bathroom floor
5 May 2019

Domestic Violence Victoria policy manager Alison Macdonald said coronial investigations enable the community and the authorities working for it to learn from such cases. “It’s really important that we have coronial investigations into the circumstances surrounding family violence deaths so that we can understand whether there were any systemic gaps or failures that contributed to the death,’ Ms Macdonald said.

The Age

Borce Ristevski and Joseph Esmaili manslaughter sentences prompt calls for law reform
19 April 2019

Domestic Violence Victoria said the Ristevski sentence exposed “the limitations of the criminal justice system in delivering just outcomes in family violence matters”.

“Today we received the message that taking a woman’s life is worth six years of a man’s life in prison,” a DV Victoria statement said.

“This does not feel like justice for Karen Ristevski and those who loved her.”

Ted Bundy true crime projects shine a light on our obsession with murdered women — and how to avoid 'misery porn'
10 February 2019

“There is opportunity to tell victim’s stories in sensitive and evidence-informed ways,” Alison Macdonald, manager of policy for Domestic Violence Victoria.

“Not every production company is necessarily going to honour that.”

2018

‘Stick to the plan’: major parties at odds over Victoria’s family violence strategy
8 November 2018

“Ahead of the election, minister Natalie Hutchins wants the Liberals to commit to all 227 royal commission recommendations.”

The Guardian

‘We’ve only just started’: How the parties stack up on family violence
4 November 2018

“Rosie Batty’s story had a painful circularity.

Her audience, a packed room of domestic violence experts and workers, gathered to hear from the politicians responsible for tackling family violence.”

The Age

Frustrated over the pace of reform, domestic violence campaigners run for Parliament
25 October 2018

“There are also concerns the royal commission’s recommendations will be shelved if the Coalition is elected at next month’s state poll.

The Labor Government has committed to implementing the commission’s 227 recommendations, but the Coalition hasn’t made an unequivocal commitment to do the same.”

ABC News

Domestic violence campaigners warn of stalling momentum in Victoria
24 October 2018

A PM radio segment on the family violence sector’s call for all political parties to unite against family violence including comment from Rosie Batty.

ABC Radio – PM

We don’t need another new plan to end family violence
20 October 2018

Our CEO Fiona McCormack wrote an op-ed on the need for all parties to unite against family violence in the lead up to the Victorian State Election 2018.

“The royal commission forensically reviewed the family violence system, looked at the international evidence base and handed down 227 recommendations in a carefully considered report. No other jurisdiction in the world has had the benefit of such a review.”

Sydney Morning Herald

Editorial: There is much work to do to prevent violence against women and children
16 October 2018

The Bendigo Advertiser’s Editor Nicole Ferrie called for bipartisan support to implementing the Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations.

“IF we have learnt anything in recent weeks, it is the job is not done for those working to prevent violence against women and children. Far from it.”

The Bendigo Advertiser

Unite Against Family Violence campaign launched in Melbourne
15 October 2018

“The state’s political parties have been given until next Wednesday to commit, in writing, to funding and implementing all 227 recommendations by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.”

The Bendigo Advertiser

Family violence victims, peak bodies to rally at state parliament ahead of election
15 October 2018

“Family violence victims and peak bodies will rally at state parliament on Monday to call for political support ahead of November’s election.”

Herald Sun

‘One of our biggest nights’: Police brace for spike in family violence
27 September 2018

“Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Fiona McCormack said family violence services were also preparing for the spike by making sure they had extra staff rostered on for the weekend.

She said alcohol consumed during big sporting events could exacerbate an already volatile situation.”

The Age

3CR ‘In Ya Face’ interview on w/respect
20 August 2018

DV Vic CEO Fiona McCormack joined Manager of Q Respect Queerspace Maryclare Machen on 3CR’s In Ya Face to talk about w/respect – a new integrated LGBTIQ domestic, family, and intimate partner violence service.

3CR – In Ya Face

Focus on alcohol in Shannon Grant case sparks anger from family violence groups
14 August 2018

Former footballer Shannon Grant was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend on three occasions last year. In an appeal at the County Court, his prison sentence was overturned for a community corrections order. The judge said alcohol gave rise to his behaviour and that he had lost his self-control. DV Vic CEO and Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly commented on the importance of understanding the drivers of violence against women and the need to not excuse or minimise this pattern of behaviour.

ABC News

Victoria's top cop wants police given powers to issue domestic violence intervention orders
12 August 2018

CEO Fiona McCormack urged caution in relation to a Victoria Police proposal to issue domestic violence intervention orders in the field. This article is one of a series of investigative pieces by the ABC on family violence and the police.

ABC News

We should treat family violence like terrorism: expert proposal
9 August 2018

In an article about an expert’s proposal for a family violence watch list, DV Vic CEO Fiona McCormack recommends the need for input from specialist family violence services.

The Age

How did a confident, successful woman become a poverty-stricken recluse?
8 August 2018

DV Vic CEO Fiona McCormack’s article about financial abuse was published by The Guardian this week. It’s a timely reminder that family violence is complex and is almost never just about physical violence.

The Guardian

Media on Joy Rowley’s inquest findings
2-5 August 2018

There was a wave of media coverage following the Coroner’s findings from Joy Rowley’s inquest. At the same time the murders of three other women, in their homes, became headline news leading to more reporting on family violence and what needs to be done. Below is a list of the coverage including comment from DV Vic or the the Rowley family.

Mum’s murder sparks review into family violence-related deaths, 9 News

Victoria Police pledges family violence deaths review, Herald Sun

Family violence deaths dominate headlines as Victorian coroner calls for changes, ABC News

Women fear ‘Russian roulette’ when reporting family violence, The Age

We are right to be horrified by Victoria’s toll of dead women, The Age

Coroner urges reviews of family violence deaths after murder of Joy Rowley, The Age

We should treat family violence like terrorism: expert proposal
9 August 2018

In an article about an expert’s proposal for a family violence watch list, DV Vic CEO Fiona McCormack recommends the need for input from specialist family violence services.

The Age

We should treat family violence like terrorism: expert proposal
9 August 2018

In an article about an expert’s proposal for a family violence watch list, DV Vic CEO Fiona McCormack recommends the need for input from specialist family violence services.

The Age

The positives and perils of My Health Record
28 July 2018

An analysis of the impact of My Health Record including the danger it poses for survivors of family violence with comment from our CEO Fiona McCormack.

The Saturday Paper

Central Victorian agencies concerned at Liberal Nationals Family Violence Disclosure Scheme proposal
26 June 2018

“Parts of a person’s criminal history will be available to their current or former partners under a Liberal Nationals government.

But the leaders of central Victorian specialist agencies have warned the proposed Family Violence Disclosure Scheme could lull people into a false sense of security.”

The Bendigo Advertiser

‘Tip of the iceberg’: Family violence deaths in Melbourne over weekend spark outrage
9 July 2018

CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria Fiona McCormack joins Mornings to discuss why the latest deaths only reflect a sober reality of family violence across the state, and why everyone needs to do more to impact the issue.

Mornings – ABC Radio

Eurydice Dixon: Warnings over personal safety spark social media backlash
15 June 2018

“Warnings urging women to take responsibility for their safety have sparked a deluge of criticism on social media following the killing of young Melbourne woman Eurydice Dixon.”

ABC News

The truth about men and murder
2 June 2018

Fiona McCormack, CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria, says it is vital to recognise how gender is a factor in family violence.

“The fact that family violence is primarily perpetrated by men and overwhelmingly experienced by women and children can be a deeply uncomfortable truth, but unless we have the courage as a community to look at why it is that some men choose to perpetrate violence, we’ll never be able to fix this,’’ she said.

Sydney Morning Herald

Men kill women in four of five domestic violence homicides
31 May 2018

A new report has found that women are overwhelmingly the victims in fatal domestic violence cases, with the first three months after they leave their male partner the most dangerous.

The Guardian

Joy Rowley Inquest
21-23 May 2018

Joy Rowley’s murder was a tragedy that should never have happened. DV Vic is relieved that Joy Rowley’s family have finally had the coroner’s inquest they have spent so long fighting for.

Could police have saved Joy from being strangled to death?, The Age

‘We are sorry’: Victoria Police apologises for failing Joy Rowley, The Age

‘Our mother had a second chance at life which was passed by’, The Age

Woman’s strangling murder could have been prevented by police, inquest hears, ABC News

Family of mum strangled to death by roommate fights for answers, 9 News

 

Reporting on murder suicides
21 May 2018

“Men who kill their families usually have friends and families who loved them but providing quotes from those people without any context explaining the underlying sense of entitlement that makes these men think they have the right to take the lives of women in their family is one-sided and misleading.”

Media Watch

‘I was just so scared’: New push to help Victorian domestic violence victims end leases
4 February 2018

Domestic Violence Victoria policy manager Allison Macdonald says property managers have a key role to play because they are often the first to know that domestic violence is occurring. She says understanding and referring victims is important, but there is more property managers can do for victims without stepping beyond their role.

Domain

'It is unrelenting': Rosie Batty steps down from her foundation
16 February 2018

“In many ways, while community attitudes have come so far, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in states across Australia to really deliver on the systems required to keep kids and women safe.”

Sydney Morning Herald

Luke Batty Foundation to Close as Rosie Batty Steps Down
19 February 2018

Acclaimed domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty is stepping down as CEO of the Luke Batty Foundation, with the foundation set to “close its doors” and distribute funds to other not-for-profit family violence initiatives.

Pro Bono Australia

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