Domestic violence is a major problem affecting all communities in Australia, and all levels of government need to play their part in helping to reduce violence against women and children.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has convened a National Summit today to address this problem and as President of ALGA I had the opportunity to present to the Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers and summit delegates on some of the leading practices adopted by individual councils and state and territory local government associations.
The importance placed on this area by local government was reflected in the unanimous resolution adopted at last year’s ALGA National General Assembly of Local Government which supported an appropriately-resourced national campaign against domestic violence.
Local government is uniquely placed to help prevent family violence, both through its role as an employer and in its provision of community services and support.
The efforts of councils are amply demonstrated by the wealth of material I had to choose from when highlighting council leading practice for the summit. I particularly want to mention the City of Whittlesea (Victoria) for its Family Violence Workplace Support Policy, Monash City Council for using its library to promote prevention of violence messages and the Municipal Association of Victoria’s Strategy on Gender and Emergency Management, which recognises that natural disasters can lead to an increase in family violence.
The key message I gave to the COAG First Ministers and the summit delegates was that preventing violence against women and children means changing attitudes, practices and norms in the community and this needs sustained, coordinated and resourced action across governments. I know that local government is committed to playing its role in reducing violence against women and children, in partnership with other levels of government, and I urge all councils to look critically at their workplace policies and their community engagement programs to make sure that we are doing the best we can to make a difference on this issue.
Mayor Troy Pickard