Feeling safe is a basic human right – but help is here if you’re experiencing family violence
Today, Thursday 10 December, is Human Rights Day, the anniversary of when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The UDHR outlines a set of rights that are the basic and minimum for all people, and makes it clear that everyone, no matter where they come from, should enjoy the same freedoms. These include civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
In Australia, many of us take these fundamental rights for granted, but in reality not all of them are available on an equal basis to all Australians – or to all people across the world.
Human Rights Day is also the final day of the global campaign 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. This connection highlights that gender-based and family violence is a fundamental violation of human rights.
What is family violence?
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare defines family violence as violence between family members, such as between parents and children, siblings, and intimate partners.
Domestic violence is a type of family violence, and refers specifically to violence that occurs between current or former intimate partners (sometimes referred to as ‘intimate partner violence’).
Both family violence and domestic violence include behaviours such as:
- physical violence (hitting, choking, use of weapons)
- emotional abuse, also known as psychological abuse (intimidating, humiliating)
- coercive control (controlling access to finances, monitoring movements, isolating from friends and family).
On average, the effects of this violence are more severe for women and more frequent for gender-diverse people.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a recent increase in family violence in Australia.
Some of the reasons include disruptions to normal lifestyle and routines, and significant pressure on emotions, finances, work or study, and overall health and wellbeing. These issues can strain personal and family relationships, exacerbate existing domestic problems or increase risk to victims already experiencing family violence.
Are you feeling unsafe at home?
Family violence is a crime and there is no excuse. If you’re feeling unsafe in your home right now, please seek help in one of the following ways:
In an emergency
- If you’re experiencing violence, or you’re worried about someone else’s safety, call Victoria Police or go to a police station. In an emergency, always call Triple Zero (000).
- If English is not your first language, call Triple Zero (000) and tell them your language. They will connect you to an interpreter.
- If you have a hearing impairment or have difficulty being understood verbally, the National Relay Service can help with an emergency call.
There are no longer any restrictions on reasons to leave home. But, regardless of the future level of any restrictions in Victoria, if you need to leave a violent situation, you can.
Support from within Deakin
- Safer Community is Deakin’s central point of contact for reports and disclosures of family violence and sexual harm. If you feel unsafe in your home, our trained professionals can support you, including to assist you with a safety plan if appropriate or to provide advice.
Safer Community is not an emergency or crisis response service and we only operate during business hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm).
- If you’d like to talk to a counsellor, contact Deakin’s Counselling and Psychological Support (CAPS) service.
- Safe Steps (1800 015 188) provides family violence support over the phone or via email 24 hours a day. They can also connect you with someone who speaks in your preferred language.
- The Orange Door (1800 312 820) is a family violence organisation that connects victims, children or people who need help to change their behaviour to relevant local services.
- inTouch (1800 755 988) provides support services to women from multicultural backgrounds, including migrant and refugee women living in Victoria, who are experiencing or have experienced family violence.
- Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491) provides help and support for people concerned about their own behaviour.
- 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) provides information, counselling and support for people affected by family violence and sexual harm.
- Language barriers or other factors may make it even harder for you to report family violence. To help you or someone you know understand what to do, Victoria Police has produced a video in 26 languages.