Australian and New Zealand police meet to tackle domestic and family violence

Victoria Police is set to host the Australia and New Zealand Police Family and Domestic Violence Forum when it commences in Melbourne for the first time today.

More than 120 police from the two countries will converge at the two-day forum to share insight, best practice and develop new strategies to combat and prevent family violence.

The forum, held annually and for the second time, was first held in New South Wales last year.

Family Violence Command Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter said responding to family violence is complex and highlights the need for continual focus in this area.

“There is no doubt that family and domestic violence is one of the biggest social challenges facing both our countries,” AC McWhirter said.

“While significant progress has been made in police understanding and practice, the complexities of this often-hidden crime requires continued new ways of thinking.

“The forum represents an invaluable opportunity to share learnings beyond our policing borders on ways we can build on our own capability, and shape and lead the way we respond in our united fight against these heinous crimes.”

The key themes of the forum are:

• integrated approach to family violence, sexual offences and child abuse

• victim safety

• child safety

• offence and offender management and

• safety and wellbeing of police.

Attendees will hear from a range of guest speakers, including Simone, a victim and advocate of family and domestic violence.

Simone was subjected to emotional, psychological and physical abuse at the hands of her former partner. She was physically assaulted within inches of her life. Today, she shares her story with others in hope it will give victims strength to leave violent relationships.

“At a time when we continue to see more and more members of our community harmed by family violence, we take every opportunity to learn from each other and improve the ways that we can better protect people like Simone,” AC McWhirter said.

“We know that when victims come into contact with police, they are often already at a crisis point. And tragically, while we are seeing an increase of family violence incidents, we know that many are still suffering in silence.

“These discussions will endeavour to identify gaps, learn from examples of good practice, assess what we are currently doing, and look at how we can improve now and for the future.

“The forum will no doubt also help forge new and strengthen existing relationships in our continued efforts to call time on this crime.”

From 25 November, Victoria Police will participate in the 16 Days of Activism, joining organisations across the world in stamping out family and domestic violence.

Police will take part in the Walk Against Family Violence held at Federation Square to recognise the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

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