Funding in this area is long overdue and very welcome.

The NSW Government will deliver $115,000 in new funding to help tackle domestic and family violence (DFV) in the LGBTI* community.

Announced on September 9 by NSW Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault the Hon Pru Goward, the funding will support programs and services being delivered by ACON, NSW’s leading LGBTI health organisation. Ms Goward also launched ACON’s new DFV strategy which will guide the organisation’s work in relation to DFV over the next five years.

Ms Goward says the funding will allow ACON to engage with the LGBTI community to deliver a primary prevention campaign to increase awareness of healthy relationships among lesbians and to identify the early signs of DFV in the broader LGBTI community.

“Violence in any relationship or in any household is unacceptable,” Ms Goward says. “It’s important that LGBTI people and their families feel safe and supported, and this new funding will help ACON deliver services that will help achieve this outcome.

“ACON’s new strategic plan for its DFV work demonstrates that the organisation is committed to improving the safety of LGBTI people and their families, and the Government looks forward to working with ACON and its partners over the next five years to reduce violence experienced by LGBTI people in relationships and households.”

Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong said, “Funding in this area is long overdue and very welcome.

“Domestic and family violence often coincides with other issues, such as mental health, substance abuse, gender identity and discrimination. We need to do much more to find holistic solutions to this complex policy area. We need solutions that support victims and prevent violent behaviour from reoccurring. Research and education are the first steps in finding those solutions.

“Many of the materials and resources currently committed to countering domestic and family violence are written with a heterosexual perspective. This can mean that people don’t realise that the problem exists in LGBTIQ communities. Or that victims of abuse can’t find resources that answer their particular needs. With this funding ACON can do research to find out what further support is needed within LGBTIQ communities to reduce the traumatic effects of this type of violence."

ACON President Mark Orr says the new funding acknowledges the specific challenges that the LGBTI community faces in relation to DFV. “While DFV in the LGBTI community mirrors the types and levels of DFV in the broader community, there are some unique aspects experienced by LGBTI people,” Mr Orr says.

“DFV in the LGBTI community doesn’t always look the same as in heterosexual relationships, and so LGBTI people don’t always recognise it. Also, the language and framework used around this issue and much of the media publicity also relates to heterosexual relationships, making violence in homosexual relationships invisible. Because of this many LGBTI people suffer in isolation and don’t feel comfortable to report abuse or seek help from support services.”

Mr Orr says for many there is also the added fear for many victims that the abusive partner will ‘out’ them to family, friends, or work colleagues, or reveal their HIV status. He says homophobic violence within families is also major problem. “Due to entrenched homophobia, LGBTI people are often at greater risk than heterosexual people from abuse, harassment and violence from family members such as parents, siblings and children.”

“As a result of stigma and discrimination,  many LGBTI people have a fundamental distrust of mainstream services, as well as the police and justice system, and in many cases LGBTI specific services or resources simply don’t exist or aren’t appropriate.”

“Our new DFV strategy aims to address all these issues by ensuring our work over the next five years is evidence based, outcome focussed, and coordinated with our government and community partners. It also details how we will use our strengths in health promotion and social marketing to reduce DFV, increase awareness and reporting, and ensure that LGBTI people experiencing violence have access to appropriate services and support.”

ACON’s Domestic & Family Violence Strategy 2015 -18 is available on the ACON website.