Family violence

We want our community to live free from violence. Ending family violence and violence against women, girls and gender diverse people starts with gender equality.

Respect. Where do you stand?

We all deserve to be safe, equal and respected.

But too many women are subjected to sexual harassment, violence and abuse in their homes, workplaces, online and in public.

On average, a woman in Australia is killed by a man they know every nine days. Violence by an intimate partner is the leading contributor of disability and illness in women aged 15-44. Family violence is also one of the main reasons why women and children become homeless.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Violence against women and girls can be prevented. Respect sits at the core of all safe, healthy and equal relationships. We can all be part of creating a future where disrespect, sexual harassment and violence towards women are not tolerated.

The importance of active bystanders

For this years' 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, we are encouraging our community to be active bystanders and call out disrespect when they see it in their everyday lives and online.

Challenging disrespect towards women is everyone’s responsibility.

Through bystander action, everyone can help to create an environment of respect.

A bystander is someone who witnesses disrespectful or discriminatory behaviour. An active bystander is someone who does something when they witness this behaviour.

Active bystanders have a powerful role in helping to change attitudes and behaviours that allow disrespect, harassment and violence towards women to occur.

Even small actions can make a big difference.

Active bystanders notice the situation, recognise that something is wrong, feel responsible to act, decide what to do and intervene safely.

Bystander action may include giving a disapproving look, using a light-hearted comment or question to express disapproval. It can also include speaking out, checking in with the victim/target, offering support or reporting the behaviour.

Bystander action does not involve physically restraining someone or responding in a way that is hostile or aggressive or likely to escalate the situation.

Doing nothing is saying the behaviour is OK.

20 practical ways to call out disrespect

  1. When you see something, do something. Because doing nothing does harm.
  2. Show it's not OK
  3. Next time you witness disrespect or sexual harassment, use body language to show your disapproval:
  4. Roll your eyes
  5. Shake your head
  6. ​Don’t laugh along
  7. Walk away
  8. Stand between the person being disrespectful and the woman.
  9. Support women
  10. Next time, support women and other people who are doing something:
  11. Ask if she’s OK – in person or in a message
  12. Acknowledge what happened: ‘Hey, I’m sorry. That wasn’t OK’
  13. Back up people doing something
  14. Support women who report sexism and disrespect
  15. Next time, speak up about disrespectful behaviour:
  16. Question sexist jokes: ‘I don’t get what’s funny?’
  17. Focus on the behaviour: ‘That comment was out of line’
  18. Purposely change the topic: ‘Seriously? Let’s move on’
  19. Make a joke: ‘C’mon, aren’t we better than that?’
  20. Ask them to stop: ‘Alright, that’s enough’.


You can even be an active bystander online. Your voice matters. When you see online harassment, call it out.

Speak up, offer support, call out disrespect.

For more information about respect and how we can prevent violence against women and girls, visit: Home | Respect Victoria

16 Days of Activism

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign led annually by UN Women. It runs every year from 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day), recognising that violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights abuses in the world.

During the 16 Days of Activism, communities around the world join the call to prevent and eliminate men’s violence against women.

Research tells us that sexism and all forms of disrespect towards women contribute to a culture that allows, justifies, or even promotes violence towards women.

This is why City of Port Phillip is focusing on the important role we can all play in calling out sexism and disrespect towards women.

What is family violence?

Family violence is any threatening, coercive, dominating or abusive behaviour that occurs between people in a family, domestic or intimate relationship, or former intimate relationship, that causes the person experiencing the behaviour to feel fear. In Australia, it is against the law for any member of your family, including your partner, children, siblings or in-laws, to hurt or control you.

Family violence includes (but is not limited to):

  • Any type of physical violence (hitting, punching, biting, choking)
  • Being forced to do sexual acts, even if you are married or in a relationship
  • Making threats or any kind of verbal abuse
  • Denying access to money
  • Controlling contact with people outside the family
  • Stalking (including online)
  • Intentionally hurting a pet
  • Children witnessing this abuse.

What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence includes all forms of violence against people based on their gender, or violence that affects people of a particular gender disproportionately. It is most frequently used to describe men’s violence against women.

What is violence against women?

Violence against women is any act of violence that causes or could cause physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of harm or coercion, in public or in private life.

Women from all cultures and all parts of society can experience violence. Violence against women is largely perpetrated by men. It can include:

  • intimate partner violence, including dating violence
  • sexual violence (perpetrated by someone they know or by a stranger)
  • sexual harassment (in workplaces, public spaces or online)
  • dowry-related abuse, sexual and reproductive coercion, sex trafficking and other slavery-like practices, female genital mutilation/cutting, forced marriage
  • coercive control, including financial abuse, technological abuse, control around immigration status
  • violence that occurs in institutions, for example, violence in prisons, in aged care facilities, disability or residential care settings.

What causes violence against women?

There is no single cause of family violence and violence against women. We do know that violence against women is a societal problem, rather than a few isolated incidents or a private issue. Current evidence, outlined in Change the Story: a shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia, tells us that levels of violence against women are higher where there is greater inequality between men and women. Gender inequality is where women and men do not have equal social status, power, resources or opportunities, and their voices, ideas and work are not valued equally by society.

Gender inequality provides the necessary conditions for violence against women to occur. It exists at many levels in our society – from how we view and value men and women, to economic factors like the gender pay gap between men and women, to family and relationship roles and expectations. There is a strong and consistent association between gender inequality and violence against women.

There are four factors that are shown to drive men’s violence against women. These are:

  1. Condoning and minimising violence against women. For example, blaming a woman for not leaving a violent partner.
  2. Men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence in public and private life. For example, the belief that men should be ‘in charge’ in their relationships and the bosses at work.
  3. Rigid gender stereotypes and dominant forms of masculinity. For example, the idea that men must be tough and in charge, and that women should be caring and submissive to men.
  4. Relationships between men that emphasise aggression, dominance and control. For example, men using sexist or homophobic jokes to bond with each other.

Preventing violence against women

The good news is that violence against women is not inevitable, it is preventable. To stop this violence from happening in the first place, we need to tackle gender inequality through the following actions:

  • Not condone violence against women. We must not accept that violence against women is normal or inevitable and we will challenge any attitudes or practices that minimise or excuse it, including in the media.
  • Promote women’s independence and decision-making. We ensure that women have access to the same resources, power and opportunities as men.
  • Challenge outdated gender stereotypes and roles. We support children, young people and adults to develop their own personal identities free from restrictive rules and stereotypes. And we promote gender-equitable roles in parenting, paid and unpaid work and other areas.
  • Support men and boys to develop healthy, supportive and positive relationships. We ensure that men and boys recognise and challenge harmful aspects of masculinity, dominance and privilege in their peer groups and in organisations.
  • Strengthen positive, equal and respectful relationships. We challenge disrespectful behaviour towards women, and assumptions that men should have power and control in relationships. And we work with children and young people to promote respect and gender equality.
  • Promote and advance gender equality in public and private life. We support women’s social, economic, cultural and political empowerment, as well as equality in relationships.

Council’s role in preventing family violence

Family violence is a serious and complex issue that has a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and the broader community. In recognition of this, National, State and local governments across Victoria have established family violence as a key priority for action. Council has a legislated obligation to prevent family violence and respond to the needs of victim survivors and includes this in our Council Plan. Council will:

  • take action to advance gender equality across the organisation and in the community, including through our Gender Equality Action Plan 2022 to 2025 
  • ensure that all staff employed in health and human service delivery have undertaken professional development in risk assessment for family violence
  • ensure that the development of Council policies, programs and services consider the specific impacts of gender inequality on health, wellbeing and safety.
  • seek to provide safe and gender-equitable facilities and public environments
  • play a leadership role in collaborating and co-ordinating initiatives tailored to the local community that focus on public education and community development
  • participate in the Southern Metropolitan Region’s Promoting Respect and Equity Together (PRET) Strategy group led by Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE), including working with community health and NGO partners link to Promoting Respect and Equity Together Regional Strategy - WHISE
  • develop an organisational Family Violence policy to support staff experiencing family violence.

Help and Support

If you are worried about someone, or need to seek help yourself, contact one of the support services below.

In an emergency or if you are or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 000 for Police and/or Ambulance assistance.

The following crisis and counselling services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

  • 1800RESPECT – A 24-hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling service for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Call 1800 737 732 or visit Home | 1800RESPECT
  • Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre – A 24/7 family violence response centre, providing specialist support services for anyone in Victoria who is experiencing or afraid of family violence. Call 1800 015 188 or visit Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre - 24/7 support for Victorians
  • Kids Helpline - Private and confidential phone and online counselling service for people aged 5 to 25. Call 1800 55 1800 or visit
  • MensLine Australia - Help, support, referrals & counselling services for men via telephone, online and video. Call 1300 78 99 78 or visit

Help and support for all people affected by family violence may also be found through the following specialist services:

  • Orange Door – A free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and need support. There are Orange Door hubs all around Victoria, and no referral is required. Visit Family violence support and extra help for children and families ( and for contact details to your closest Orange Door service visit Locations | The Orange Door
  • InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence – Offers free and confidential support services to migrant and refugee women living in Victoria who are experiencing or have experienced family violence. Call 1800 755 988 or visit Home - inTouch
  • Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women’s Service – An Aboriginal-led peak body for Aboriginal women and children in Victoria providing family violence services and advocacy. Call 03 9482 5744 or visit Home | EMHAWS.ORG.AU
  • Djirra – Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria – Provides legal advice, information, referral and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at immediate risk of, experiencing or recovering from family violence or sexual assault (women and men). Call 1800 105 303 or visit Djirra – Sharing stories finding solutions | A culturally safe place where culture is strengthened and practical support is available
  • With Respect 1800 LGBTIQ – Provides support for LGBTIQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Gender Diverse, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, BrotherBoys, SisterGirls) people of all ages and their families experiencing difficulty in their relationships, including family violence. Call 1800 542 847or visit WithRespect
  • Rainbow Door – A free specialist helpline providing information, support and referral to all LGBTIQ+ Victorians, their friends and family. This includes support for people of all ages and identities who are experiencing relationship issues, family and intimate partner violence (including elder abuse) and sexual assault. Call 1800 729 367 or visit Rainbow Door
  • Women’s Information Referral Exchange (WIRE) - a free support, referral and information service for women, non-binary and gender diverse people experiencing issues including family violence, financial abuse and housing. Call 1300 134 130 or visit Support, Referrals & Information for Victorian Women | WIRE
  • Sexual Assault Crisis Line - Crisis counselling service for people who have experienced past and recent sexual assault. Call 1800 806 292 Sexual Assault Crisis Line » Sexual Assault Crisis Line (
  • South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence (SECASA) – a specialist organisation which offers services such as time limited therapeutic interventions and counselling, 24/7 sexual assault crisis response and assessment and intervention for children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours. Call 03 9594 2289 or visit Home > SECASA.
  • Men’s Referral Service – a men’s family violence telephone counselling, information and referral service operating in Australia by No to Violence, which provides a point of contact for men taking responsibility for their violent behaviour. Call 1300 766 491 or visit NTV | What we do

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