Huong Truong endorsed the Prevention of Family Violence Bill 2018 on Thursday, after revealing she experienced a dangerous and traumatic childhood feeling ‘threatened,’ ‘worthless’ and ‘powerless’ as she watched her own mother being beaten.
Speaking on the ‘tidal wave’ of family violence in Victoria, the Greens Member for Western Metropolitan Region said it was time to address a problem that had been hidden behind closed doors for far too long, and since she was a child.
“I didn’t know any different. I was told it was good for me – that I needed to be physically assaulted and bullied to tell right from wrong. I’ve spent my teens and my adult life trying to unlearn this lie that I was the cause of the violence inflicted upon me,” Ms Truong said.
“I watched my mum get beaten up for perming her hair or speaking her mind. We were threatened with homelessness, made to feel worthless and powerless. The violence had become such a normal part of home.”
“I was confused when the police would turn up. And I didn’t question it when Mum would be taken to hospital, get treated, then sent home, to a place of danger rather than refuge without anyone asking if we were okay.”
The State Government recently opened the doors at Respect Victoria – the state’s first ever dedicated family violence prevention agency – and Huong Truong said if it had of existed when she was growing up, her childhood would have been very different.
“The years spent overcoming trauma instead could have been spent living a safe and peaceful life. Family violence affects too many constituents in my own electorate of Western Metro,” Ms Truong said.
“Families across this state live in the fear and humiliation that I grew up with. Their experiences are often compounded by intersectional disadvantage, such as gender, race and disability.”
When it comes to family violence, the statistics speak for themselves. Over the last 12 months to March 2018, there were 53,695 recorded criminal incidents in Victoria (14.1%) relating to a family incident.
Of the family members affected by family violence incidents, 75% were female, compared to 25% who were male. Over the year there were between 5676 and 7127 family incidents recorded per month.
Statistics also show repeat offenders are increasing. The proportion of perpetrators who had more than one incident recorded annually increased significantly over the past ten years, from 18.4% in 2006 to 27.0% in 2015.
Outside of the family violence context, sexual crimes are increasing where overall crime is falling. Over the last 24 months, the major principle offence categories with a significant upward trend was for sexual offences (up 13.4% from 7,493 to 8,495).
The Prevention of Family Violence Bill 2018 forms part of a plan to implement a range of recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, to ensure Victorian families affected by this kind of violence are protected from violence.
The Bill primarily establishes Respect Victoria – an organisation dedicated to preventing all forms of family violence – as a Statutory Authority, which means its functions, powers and duties will be protected by law.
Family and Domestic Violence Support Services
If you need to talk to someone, call:
- 1800 Respect (national helpline) on 1800 737 732
- Women’s Crisis Line on 1800 811 811
- Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491
- Lifeline (24-hour crisis line) on 131 114
- Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277
In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000)