Violence against women remains one of the most serious and pervasive issues affecting women, families, communities and society. In Australia, approximately one in three women over the age of 15 years have experienced physical assault, one in five women have experienced sexual assault, and over half of all women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.
Among Victorian women aged 15-44 violence against women is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health. Poor mental health outcomes, including depression and anxiety, represent the majority of this burden of disease (62 per cent). This is followed by suicide, tobacco and alcohol use, along with many other negative health impacts. Indeed, the trauma associated with experiencing violence has devastating and widespread impacts on women’s mental and physical health.
A review of local data demonstrates that violence against women in the Eastern Metropolitan Region is unacceptably high. In the financial year of 2011-2012, Victoria Police recorded 5,818 incidents of family violence in the Eastern Metropolitan Region including the seven municipalities of Boroondara, Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash, Whitehorse and Yarra Ranges.
While violence against women is prevalent and serious, evidence tells us it is preventable. Drawing on international and local evidence, Together for Equality & Respect takes a primary prevention approach, which is preventing violence before it occurs. To do this, Together for Equality & Respect recognises that effective responses to end violence against women need to address the underlying determinants of why violence occurs in the first place. National and international evidence identifies these determinants as the unequal power relations between women and men and adherence to rigid gender stereotypes. In order to redress these social drivers of violence, VicHealth recommends the promotion of equal and respectful relationships between men and women – a theme that is strongly imbedded in the Strategy’s vision and goals.
The evidence suggests that it is not possible to end violence against women with disparate initiatives, short-term funding and one-off projects. Together for Equality & Respect will strengthen the region’s ability to work effectively by providing a mechanism to coordinate and integrate activities across the Eastern Metropolitan Region, to maximise primary prevention efforts, and to promote mutually reinforcing actions aimed at preventing violence against women before it occurs.
Together for Equality & Respect will support existing work that is underway and will build on the momentum of the region’s strong commitment to the prevention of violence against women to ensure that the issue remains a priority in the Eastern Metropolitan Region.
For more information about the development of Together for Equality & Respect, please download the Strategy, which presents a framework for action for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, or visit the History section of the website.