26 Aug, 2010 Last updated: 13 Nov, 2014

More than 250 Australian and international community leaders met in Melbourne today to make serious headway to address the shocking incidence of violence against women in Australia.

More than 250 Australian and international community leaders met in Melbourne today (26 August) to make serious headway to address the shocking incidence of violence against women in Australia.

The Local Government and Community Leaders Preventing Violence Against Women Conference was the largest gathering of local government representatives and decision makers to find solutions to family violence ever held in Australia. The event was organised by VicHealth and Darebin City Council, with support from the Victorian Office of Women’s Policy.  

Speakers:   Minister for Women’s Affairs The Hon. Maxine Morand, Minister for Housing and Local Government, The Hon. Richard Wynne, North Melbourne Kangaroos Football Club CEO Eugene Arocca,  Municipal Association of Victoria CEO Rob Spence, South African mass media and health expert Dr Garth Japhet, VicHealth CEO Todd Harper, domestic violence expert Dr. Melanie Heenan, recently retired Brisbane Council CEO Jude Munro AO and more.

Award-winning South African public health expert Dr Garth Japhet presented on his popular long-running television series Soul City and his feature films. Dr Japhet’s work weaves health and anti-violence messages into story lines that have reached 45 million viewers in 10 countries over the last 17 years.  

VicHealth CEO Todd Harper says local governments and community leaders are in an ideal position to make lasting changes that will decrease the incidence of violence against women.

“It’s encouraging that so many people from local government, sports, emergency and crisis services, Indigenous leaders and public health experts came together to decide, as a community, what we can do to create lasting change for our daughters, mothers and sisters and imagine a future for them that is free of violence,” Mr Harper said.  

Darebin Mayor, Cr Vince Fontana, said the event reinforced the fact that community leaders need to take charge to tackle the issue of violence against women.

“The issue is one that affects the whole of society at every level,” Cr Fontana said. “The event was a starting point where discussions began on how we can work together to develop programs that infiltrate all sectors of society and have positive impact.”

  • Victorian women aged under 45 are more at risk of illness and death at the hand of a partner than other well known risk factors including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking. 
  • One in three Australian women have experienced partner violence.
  • A woman is killed almost every week in Australia by a male partner or ex-partner, often when she is trying to leave.
  • One in four Victorian children has witnessed intimate partner violence, increasing their risk of mental health problems, behavioural and learning difficulties.
  • In 2009, violence against women and their children cost the Australian economy $13.6 billion.