Taskforce to tackle rise in family violence after bushfires

Taskforce to tackle rise in family violence after bushfires

07 March 2014

published by www.heraldsun.com.au

Australia — DRAMATIC spikes in family violence in bushfire-ravaged areas have prompted the state’s emergency services to set up a taskforce to stamp it out.

The Herald Sun can reveal officials from the CFA, SES and Victoria Police will meet next Friday to sign off on plans for an Australian-first taskforce that aims to prevent families from descending into violence after fires and floods.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the squad would help provide emotional assistance to men grappling with grief and trauma, to try to promote mental health and prevent eventual long-term ­violent behaviour.

The scheme, to be rolled out this year, is based on research that identifies a shortfall in support for men as the root cause of family violence in disaster areas.

“A major disaster can really test an individual’s capability physically and mentally,” Mr Lapsley said.

He said the taskforce was a major addition to a push against family violence, alongside the Herald Sun’s Take A Stand campaign.

Research by Women’s Health Goulburn North East and the Monash Injury ­Research Institute found women faced escalating levels of abuse from their husbands after the Black Saturday fires.

A majority of women surveyed said they ­experienced violence as a ­result of the fires.

Community workers also reported an increase.

A study, published in ­November, found a gap in support led many men to internalise frustrations and turn to alcohol or drugs.

Researcher Debra Parkinson said some had lashed out at their families as a result.

“Recognising family violence as criminal is easily lost after disaster,” she said.

Premier Denis Napthine said he backed the move to provide support to men.

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