Urgently stop domestic violence perpetrators from accessing victim “safety hubs”
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I suffered years of domestic violence. Assaulted, handcuffed and tied up with rope — my little girls and I went through hell at the hands of my ex. When we finally escaped, support services and safe spaces were crucial for our survival.
That’s why I’m disgusted at VIC Government’s latest proposal. Plans to set up ‘Support and Safety Hubs’ for family violence victims have begun, but they'll be open to perpetrators as well as victims and kids. This means victims in trauma will be at risk of theirs and other abusers presence, if they want to access the hubs. I can’t believe it.
No woman I know would set foot in them if they knew their perpetrator was going there.
Perpetrators can self refer to attend the hubs. A perfect opportunity to haunt and torment women and children. Even in the 'safe place' designed for women and children: perpetrators can deceive and self refer, continue to stalk and be unpredictable.
I spoke to Kerry Burns, CEO of Centre Against Violence, CAV who objected to a number of concerns including this one and supports this petition and hopes we can become a louder voice. She has kindly allowed me to share the points which are concerning her from her point of expertise. CAV will be speaking further in their concerns about the Safety Hubs and I mentioned how this petition and my work with hundreds of women are available to support her with her document when it will be presented.
"It is of great concern to me that the hubs have been designed as a single entry point for 3 groups of people, most particularly for victims and for perpetrators. It is not safe for victims to enter the hubs when perpetrators can self-refer to them. By this I mean it is not safe in anyway: psychologically, emotionally or physically.
For many years now L17 referrals for women who are victims of family violence have been directed to family violence specialists. This is where the referrals belong. However, the Safety Hub is going to receive them in the future. I have very serious concerns that this is not in the best interests of the women.
My concern is based on the first point which is women will not find it safe to accept a service which is designed to provide for perpetrators. There is a great deal of worry with the design but the final point I will make now is that women will again confront the question “Will I be believed?” and when they ask this in relation to a safety hub they will answer it in the negative. They are right. The great strength of a perpetrator is to groom women and victims. His grooming is capable of creating collusion in other settings. The safety hub is a setting that will be at risk of colluding with him rather than holding him accountable".
Chief Executive Officer
Centre Against Violence
Please read the complete document Support and Safety Hub Statewide Concept July 2017 to confirm what I am saying:
1. Who the Hubs are for
The Hubs are for:
women, children, young people and older people experiencing family violence
families in need of support with the care, wellbeing and development of children and young people, and
perpetrators of family violence (see box on page 20 – Keeping perpetrators in view).
Read page 19-20 for further detail about perpetrators attendance at the safety hubs.
It is sickening to say you are horrified about domestic violence and you want women and children to be safe and then you create a safe house which is not a safe place. This is an exact replication of what they escaped or are trying to escape from.
I am speaking out because my children's childhood was robbed and it takes many, many years to recover. There are many costs: financially, emotionally, physical health and limitations in life choices. I don't want this to continue in my grandchildren's world.
Creating safety hubs for victims was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. But it was a recommendation for victims and children to be safe and protected — not to create another space where perpetrators can locate and re-traumatise them.
Please sign and share my petition today, urging the VIC Premier Daniel Andrews and Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings to immediately stop plans for perpetrators to attend these safety hubs.
I have now spoken with a number of people who have been involved with the consultation process. These are the (anonymous) concerns which are coming out from the conversations which have been ignored through the consultation process.
Women are not safe when perpetrators are allowed to self refer
Further points that are of concern in creating safety hubs which are not safe:
A number of organisations have pulled out of the Safety Hub plan due to the lack of taking the victim survivors needs into the design.
It is believed a number of voices/spokespeople and organisations are not speaking out to not risk their position or funding.
The Safety Hubs control and takeover of the process of referral and processing of client needs, means that the DV response is not the women and children centred place for women and children to receive help, as it now comes under the duristiction of Dept of Human Services.
Kerry Burns from CAV stated further she had a number of concerns:
It shifts the referall out of the Domestic Violence sector and into the hub
It is the same entry point for victims and perpetrators
The design states that it will do more for those facing barriers such as men who are victims and others: yet leaves men who are victims with VAP which actually leaves doubts of congruency of intention
Refers to family violence and sexual assault services in the same map describing the ‘broad service system’ sitting with schools LGA”s etc. which is completely incorrect. (Anita: Family violence and sexual assault has completely different knowledge base and needs to local government and again is placing or hijacking this specialist area into governement.)
Shifts after hours responses out of the Domestic Violence sector
Enables the hub to offer full services if the client prefers. In Kerry's experience this means referrals to centres such as Centre Against Violence will not be automatic
There is no relationship between MDC and Hub
There is no clear statement about whether the hub is an arm of government, (Anita: though from confirmation from others in the consultation process, it is now sitting under the umbrella of Dept Human Services)
There appears to be a token to listen to the specialist expertise they require will come from our sector: but are not in the design process taking on board all the DV service and survivors experience and needs. So in fact, to provide expertise in a system that is not designed by the specialists.
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