21 Jul, 2010 Last updated: 13 Nov, 2014

Community leaders from the eastern region of Melbourne have gathered at a forum to tackle the leading contributor to death and disability in young to middle aged Victorian women – partner violence.

Community leaders from the eastern region of Melbourne gathered at a forum on July 21 to tackle a leading contributor to death and disability in young to middle aged Victorian women – partner violence.

Intimate partner violence is more respondible for the disease burden among Victorian women aged 15 to 44 than high blood pressure, obesity and smoking. A woman is killed almost every week in Australia by a male partner or ex-partner, often when she is trying to leave.

The event with Eastern Region Councils was held to workshop grass-roots solutions and reflects a growing contingent of council staff, Mayors and Councillors finding creative ways to send a message to their communities that violence against women is not okay.

Around 150 community leaders attended. This event was organised through the Local Government Networking and Capacity Building Project, led by VicHealth and Darebin Council in partnership with the Eastern Councils.

Speakers included The Hon. Maxine Morand, Minister for Women’s Affairs, Monash Mayor Charlotte Baines, Wendy Steendam - Assistant Commissioner, Eastern Region, Victoria Police, Leigh Gassner, White Ribbon Foundation board member and Jen, a survivor of family violence

VicHealth CEO, Todd Harper, said: “While attitudes to violence against women are improving, there are still people prepared to excuse, trivialise or stand silent in the face of behaviour that is abusive or harmful to women.  We are working to assist local councils to lead the way in addressing the unacceptably high rates of violence against women that exist across Australia.

“It’s time to continue these frank and open discussions and 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 violence free.”

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner for the Eastern Region, Wendy Steendham, added: “I know from my work at Victoria Police, that preventing violence against women and children is critically important to stem the tide of violence we respond to every day. I encourage all community members to take a stand against violence, this includes encouraging respect for women, speaking out against violence, supportive remarks, and doing what you can in your work and home life to reduce violence against women.”

VicHealth has carried out extensive research into violence against women and funds a range of prevention programs. Find out more at www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/en/Programs-and-Projects/Freedom-from-violence.aspx or more info about the partnership project at www.lgpvaw.net.au