Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has vowed to overhaul a “broken” family violence support system after a report called for sweeping reforms to prevent and respond to the problem.
After 13 months and 25 days of hearings, the Royal Commission into Family Violence has given 227 recommendations to the State Government and said all parts of the domestic violence system were overwhelmed.
Mr Andrews said the State Government would implement all of the report’s recommendations.
“We’ll overhaul our broken support system from the bottom up,” he said.
“We’ll punish the perpetrators of this violence, we’ll listen to the people who survive it and we will change the culture that created it.”
Mr Andrews said last year 37 Victorians had been murder by a family member.
“We failed every single one of them,” he said.
“Family violence is a silent crime deployed by cowards behind closed doors.
“It’s Australia’s number one law and order issue but it’s taken us too long to admit it.”
The commission recommended the creation of 17 support and safety hubs to act as one-stop-shops for family violence victims.
The hubs would act as a single entry point for victims and would perform risk assessments, provide assistance and arrange emergency accommodation.
“There must be clear entry points into, and pathways between different parts of the system, to make the experience of seeking help as supportive and seamless as possible,” the report said.
The commission also called for changes to Victoria Police structure to make family violence a core business.
It said police, the courts and support services were not equipped to meet the high level of demand, and that efforts to hold perpetrators to account were grossly inadequate.
The commission’s recommendations included a revised risk assessment framework, to identify the risk of family violence as low, medium or high.
Report finds ‘serious limitations’ to state’s approach
The commission found Victoria has been at the forefront of family violence policy, and parts of the response remained sound.
But it said there were “serious limitations in the existing approach”.
“We are not responding adequately to the scale and impact of the harm caused by family violence,” the report said.
The commission focused heavily on interaction between family violence victims, police and the court system.
It called for family violence education programs for police, and for a trial to use body cameras to collect statements and evidence at family violence scenes.
It has also asked the Government to consider whether police should be given the power to issue family violence orders in the field.
The report called for specialist Family Violence Courts to be established across the state, with facilities to access family violence service providers.
It asked the Government to introduce legislation so all family violence matters could be heard in such a specialist court within the next five years.
There should also be dedicated funding for perpetrator programs, and better monitoring of attendance at men’s behaviour change programs, the report said.