Media Release: Department at frontline in family and domestic violence support

25 November 2016

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Minister for Human Services

The Australian Government marks White Ribbon Day with a renewed commitment to ending family and domestic violence in Australia. 

White Ribbon Day (25 November) and the following 16 days of activism against gender violence, is an ideal time to highlight the support available and to say ‘enough’ when it comes to family and domestic violence.

The Department of Human Services is a recognised leader in providing support and referrals for those affected by family and domestic violence.

The department recently received an award at the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management for outstanding work in the field and its new Family and Domestic Violence Strategy.

The strategy recognises the department is often the first point of contact for people experiencing family and domestic violence, and builds on the strong support structures already in place.

Last year, the department’s social workers nationally received 61,548 referrals where family and domestic violence was a presenting issue.

Department staff receive specialist training and are well-equipped to quickly identify customers at risk and provide them with information, resources and support.

Over the past two years over 20,000 staff have received additional training as part of the ‘Enough’ campaign. So staff are better able to identify where someone—either a customer or colleague—may need help.

Department of Human Services Social Worker Ellen Harwood, who works out of a women’s safe room in a local court once a fortnight, said the earlier people can get support, the better.

“In my everyday work I see women, men, and children, who have had to leave everything behind—their homes, their families, their jobs—everything they know and love,” Ms Harwood said.

“The effects of family and domestic violence are devastating and often long-term, yet it is still a challenge to get people to talk about it.

“We work closely with community stakeholders and make sure individuals feel safe enough to speak up so we can help them access essential financial assistance, resources and support services to rebuild their lives.”

Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge said the Government is committed to achieving positive change and ending family and domestic violence in Australia. 

“We want our children to grow up in safe environment knowing what a respectful loving relationship is. No-one should have to live in fear. It is time to say enough,” Minister Tudge said.

“If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence, I urge you to call the national family and domestic counselling service on 1800RESPECT or visit humanservices.gov.au/enough.”

Media contact: Rachelle Miller, 0475 804 886