By Deborah Tkalcevic – Policy & Advocacy Adviser
ALL PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE AND BE RECOGNISED FOR WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY BRING TO THE WORLD
The Salvation Army wholeheartedly supports eﬀorts to eliminate violence within families as human life is sacred and all people should be treated with dignity and respect. The Bible teaches that all people are equal in value to God, and that God cares about the details of every person’s life.
Every instance of violence in a relationship is contrary to this teaching and is unacceptable.
Throughout Scripture we consistently see that God cares deeply for those who are hurt by others. As His followers, we also care for those who are aﬀected by violence, and seek to bring healing to those who experience it (Isaiah 1:17).
Sadly we have high rates of violence within Australia that can happen to anyone, and statistically, the overwhelming majority of those aﬀected are women. For many women and girls in Australia they are not safe in their own homes and in relationships.
Leaving a violent situation can be stressful and overwhelming, and for those that do, many seek accommodation, advice and support from The Salvation Army. During 2018-19 financial year 13,850 people experiencing family domestic violence received our care. Our data also shows that violence is the primary reason for women and their children seeking our homelessness services: 49% of single parents are homeless due to family violence and 2 in 5 children become homeless because of family violence.
As Salvationists we need to understand that violence is not always physical or visible. Financial abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse or coercive control can be less obvious but just as harmful as physical violence. All these forms of abuse cause immediate and lasting harm to victim-survivors as well as others, especially children, who witness it.
We need to call out people and organisations that use language which minimises or seeks to excuse violence against women. As individuals, we must reflect on our own attitudes towards women, be strong community role models, and challenge gender stereotypes and roles in the home, in relationships and in the workplace.
As Salvationists we need to look out for the people we care about. If someone tells you, explicitly or through subtle hints, that they are experiencing violence – believe them. If you can, help them access support. If it is safe to do so you can ring 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or go to www.1800respect.org.au and use the web chat. And always, if you hear or suspect someone is in immediate danger, call the police on 000.
We must also ensure that the perpetrators of violence acknowledge their wrongdoing, accept responsibility for it, receive help to deal with those factors which are resulting in violent behaviour, and receive support in working towards the development of new behaviours. The Salvation Army also supports men experiencing or perpetrating violence.
At The Salvation Army, we advocate strongly to Commonwealth and state members of parliament, community leaders and the wider community to address Australia’s enduring problem with violence in families and relationships and promote gender equality. Most recently, we:
- Called for public policy changes to Australia’s family law system
- Provided feedback on the draft Northern Territory Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Workforce and Sector Development Plan 2020-2028
- Developed a submission to the Victorian Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor and
- Submitted national action recommendations to the House of Representatives Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence.
To find out more about how to be involved and the issues we are advocating for, you can access all our reports and submissions here. [Please note: not all submissions are uploaded as yet, but will be soon.]