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Family violence program receives anti-violence award

Media Release

29 October 2009

A Victorian family violence prevention program which works with religious leaders from various denominations to educate their congregations on healthy relationships has won national recognition at the 2009 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA).

The Promoting Peace In Families program was instigated by the City of Casey in Melbourne's south-east in 2007 and is a partnership between government, the public health sector and community religious leaders. It is an effective family violence prevention program and a violence prevention model that could be replicated in many other communities.

It was one of two Victorian projects to receive a National Certificate and cash award of $10,000, which was presented by Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor at Parliament House in Canberra today.

Ms Sophia Petrov, Director of Community Development at the City of Casey, said the project had targeted faith leaders from various denominations, suburbs and ethnic groups to teach them about family violence and how to respond.

"Casey is a large, diverse, vibrant multicultural area with significant examples of social disadvantage and had the highest recorded rate of police intervention for family violence in Victoria when the program began," Ms Petrov said.

"We were able to gain support from the National Community Crime Prevention Program and over the past two years 128 senior faith leaders have been involved in training and education to equip them to intervene effectively with victims and perpetrators, and to educate their congregations about unacceptable behaviour and healthy relationships."

The project has reached more than 4,000 congregation members, with an average of 10 victims and two perpetrators per congregation coming forward to seek assistance.

"We are now working to produce a resource kit for churches or other community groups to continue to make the program sustainable," Ms Petrov said.

Minister O'Connor said the program had produced a number of positive outcomes including the formation of strong inter-faith, secular and non-secular community relationships.

"By creating a supportive community environment in which the issue of family violence and relationships can be openly discussed, the program has seen both victims and perpetrators come forward in unprecedented numbers to seek assistance," Mr O'Connor said.

The ACVPA is a joint initiative of the Australian, State and Territory governments which rewards outstanding community-based projects that prevent or reduce crime and violence.

Eight ground-breaking projects involving young offenders and youth at risk, Indigenous communities, religious congregations, police and community health and safety organisations have won national recognition this year.

For more information about the Australian Community Violence Prevention Awards visit http://www.aic.gov.au/crime_community/acvpa.aspx

 PROJECT OVERVIEW: PROMOTING PEACE IN FAMILIES, VICTORIA

Promoting Peace In Families, Victoria

This program commenced in January 2007 and is led by the City of Casey in Melbourne's south-east.
It is an innovative partnership uniting government, the public health sector and faith leaders that demonstrates a new frontier in family violence prevention.

This project targets faith leaders from various denominations, suburbs and ethnic groups to teach them about family violence and how to respond by intervening effectively with victims and perpetrators, and educating congregations and the broader community about unacceptable behaviour and healthy relationships.

Key outcomes:

  • Congregations totalling more than 4000 people reached
  • 128 senior community leaders so far participating in the program
  • The project has helped to form strong inter-faith, secular and non-secular relationships

Media contacts: Scott Kelleher 0418 159525, Caterina Giugovaz 0418 221798.
For detail on the awards visit www.aic.gov.au/crime_community/acvpa.aspx