FORMER Governor-General of Australia Dame Quentin Bryce was among top speakers when domestic violence-associated workers from across the state gathered recently at USQ Toowoomba.
The two-day Domestic and Family Violence Symposium focused on developing more effective responses to domestic violence by sharing knowledge, practices, and encouraging integrated service delivery.
Dame Bryce spoke about the findings of the Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland Taskforce report which she chaired and which was the catalyst for the USQ symposium.
The taskforce spoke with hundreds of survivors, service providers and support groups, saying the three areas needing immediate attention were:
- changes in culture and attitudes,
- reform to the responses to incidents of abuse and its victims, and
- reform to the response from the justice system.
"It is a well-researched report and what gives it its power and strength is the voices of the brave, and courageous women who spoke to us," Dame Bryce said.
"Everyone in the community has a responsibility here.
"It's about having some guts and courage and knowing how to speak up. Sometimes you might feel it is a risk, interfering or it's not your business - but it is. It is all of our business."
In an online story published by Toowoomba Seniors Newspaper last month, Relationships Australia South-West regional manager Sonya Kupfer said too many over-55s were living in domestic violence but felt unable to speak out or seek help.
Because many older women had not worked outside the home but raised the family while their husband earned and often controlled the money, they could be very financially dependent on their partner, in many cases not even having the house in shared names.
There was also an old-fashioned belief that 'what happens in marriage should stay within the marriage', embarrassment and worry over how to answer the question 'why did you stay so long?', and the fear that somehow 'it's my fault; I deserve this' or minimisation or excuses of the behaviours such as 'it's only when he drinks'.
Support services in Toowoomba include Relationships Australia on 4638 4700 or 1300 364 277, and the Domestic Violence Action Centre (DVAC) on 4642 1354. You can also call DV Connect on 1800 811 811, Lifeline's crisis care on 13 11 14 and, for legal advice, The Advocate Support Centre (TASC) on 4616 9700.