The ‘hidden scourge’

Domestic violence is an issue that should challenge everyone, not just the victims, police and support services, Archbishop Christopher Prowse said.

He was speaking in the lead-up to a day on domestic and family violence, being organised by the Catholic Archdiocesan Commission for Women and the Anglican and Uniting Churches, at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Barton, from 9.30am to 4pm on Saturday, 18 June.

“Too many in our community still believe violence in the family happens to others, but it is too widespread for that to be true.

“Domestic/family violence is one of society’s biggest scourges, sadly too often a hidden scourge.

“Now is the time for this to change. Our community, especially our Catholic community, cannot possibly turn a blind eye through apathy, embarrassment or disbelief.  Already some our Catholic agencies in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn are assisting families caught up in this sad web of violence.

“I encourage you to attend the day being organised by the Commission for Women. It is, importantly, not an event organised only for women. One way for men to show they care about a solution is to take part in finding one.”

The Archdiocese’s Commission for Women plans to hold similar days in the country deaneries.

“These days are too important to miss,” chair of the commission and the planning group Ms Margaret Ryan said.

“They will be helpful for parish secretaries, teachers and members of school parent groups and boards, for clergy and members of parish pastoral councils, for parents who are concerned about family members, for those involved in situations of violence, and for all who would like to know more about the problem.”

Panel members for the Canberra event are the Domestic Violence Crisis Service; ACT Policing; Legal Aid; a member of a women’s refuge which has an indigenous manager and a member of a victims of crime organisation.

On the day, the Uniting Church will launch its booklet, “For Such a Time as This”, with stories about domestic/family violence, with prompts for reflection and discussion, and a short prayer. Registration is via EventBrite

For further information, contact Margaret Ryan, telephone 0417 418 838 or email

Australian Catholic University, Catholic Superannuation and Retirement Fund, the Catholic Development Fund, CatholicCare and Catholic Church Insurance are supporting the day as is each of the Churches.

Ms Ryan said incidences of violence, unfortunately, were all too common “At times, we seem to be surrounded by violence, with horrific acts often committed by members of the family or close friends.

Australian governments have launched a campaign to try to change attitudes on domestic violence.

“These are dangerous attitudes that are deeply entrenched in our country, attitudes that minimise or excuse behaviour of perpetrators, or attitudes which seek to blame the victims – ‘what did she/he do to provoke him/her?’”

Ms Ryan said many in the community did not seem to have a clear idea of what constitutes domestic or family violence, and later realised they were in the middle of it.

From the Senate report into Domestic Violence in Australia, March 2015:

“One in three Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15, and almost one in five have experienced sexual violence.

“A study of Victorian women demonstrated that domestic violence is the leading preventable contributor to death, disability and illness in women aged between 15 and 44, and is responsible for more of the disease burden than many well known risk factors, such as high blood pressure, smoking or obesity.”.

According to the ACT government’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service, “domestic violence, family violence and intimate partner violence all fall under the same umbrella.

“It is violence and abuse that occurs within the family unit and intimate partner relationships.”

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There are many government and private organisations in Canberra and rural regions that provide information and counselling.

Christian churches also put considerable effort and finances into supporting those in crisis and in need of counselling about family violence, often via organisations such as CatholicCare, Anglicare and Uniting Care.