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Victims of family violence have to remember that it is not just themselves, but also their children who are affected by violence. The impacts of family violence on children are huge, and can result in children later becoming abusers themselves, and in the short term, impact on their social relationships with other children and adults.

Police officers in Tasmania have received specialist family violence training to provide better response to victims of family violence. Each geographical district has a Victim Safety Response Team (VSRT). A call to 000 will ensure that trained police officers or a member of the VSRT will be dispatched.

Family Violence Response and Referral Line

If you feel that you are the subject of family violence, or are witnessing family violence, the Family Violence Response and Referral Line is 1800 633 937. If the incident is occurring during your phone call, a police intervention team will be dispatched to the address. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There are also counselling, information and support services available if you call the Family Violence Response and Referral Line that an operator can refer you to.

Putting an end to family violence is not only about criminalising the behaviour of abusers, it is also about changing community attitudes, including the attitudes of perpetrators and victims, and those around them. There are extensive resources available, including emergency services, court and legal services, counselling services and offender programs.

The national Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line can also be contact 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for free, confidential counselling from qualified, specialist counsellors. The phone number is 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732.

Victim Safety Response Team

The VSRT has been trained to focus on improving victim safety in crisis situations. Their training has included the ability to offer a range of services tailored to family violence. These include:

  • completing a detailed risk assessment designed to identify the level of risk exposure
  • conducting investigations when the offender is removed from the home
  • gathering evidence and supporting information for a Family Violence Order
  • assisting in the preparation of the Family Violence Order
  • conducting a safety assessment for risk to the victim and initiating support action or removal from the home should they need to be moved to a place of safety
  • notifying the Child Protection Agency of any children present and at risk
  • undertaking a safety audit of the home
  • arranging the upgrade of security of the victims home
  • providing a safety plan to the victim
  • advising the victim on the options to be considered, including referral to support and counselling services
  • investigating breaches of Family Violence Orders
  • organising additional security patrols if required

The risk assessment aspect of the VSRT response also diminishes any likelihood of causing more problems for any party to the issue by ensuring that the outcome of their involvement does not handicap either party more than is required to prevent continued family violence. The safety of the victim and any other vulnerable party is paramount. Whether or not the new legislation and Safe At Home strategy is more effective than previous approaches is yet to be assessed.

Emergency Services

Emergency services can be contacted on 000.

Children and Young Persons Program

Children and young persons will be referred to the Family Violence Counselling and Support Service by Police, the Court Support and Liaison Service, the Child Witness Program, the DHHS or a Family Violence Worker.

If a child is in danger in a family violence situation, A full discussion is available from the Department of Health and Human Services pamphlet ‘Family Violence Counselling and Support Service’. This program can be contacted in the North/North West on 1800 608 122 or in the South on 6233 6981.

Court and Legal Services

Court and legal services include Child Witness Services, a dedicated phone support line, and dedicated court support officers. Child Witness Services is part of the Court Support and Liaison Service, and they can be contacted on the information provided below.

Court Support and Liaison Services can be contacted on 1300 633 773. Court support officers can provide information on taking out a Family Violence Order (a type of Restraint Order), information on the court process, staff, and the involvement of an applicant, victim or witness in the court process.

The dedicated court support officers work with Legal Aid, and can provide practical and emotional support in the following ways:

  • assisting with completing applications for Family Violence Orders (a type of Restraint Order)
  • accompanying the victim to court
  • providing personal support throughout the court process
  • discussing the impact of magistrate/judges decisions
  • de-briefing following court
  • following up through referral to other services

All of these services are free and provided by the Victims Assistance Unit in the Department of Justice. The contact details for the Victims Assistance Unit are:

Phone: 1300 663 773 (toll free)

Hobart: Phone 6233 5005

Launceston: Phone 6336 2128

Email: court.support@justice.tas.gov.au

Legal Aid can also assist.

Counselling Services

The Department of Health and Human Services runs the Family Violence Counselling and Support Service.

Services are free and confidential. Eligibility for the services is decided on the basis of whether you need support or information because a current or ex partner is or has been violent or abusive. People can refer themselves to the service simply by phoning one of the three offices between 9am and 5pm weekdays:

North West (03) 6434 5477

North (03) 6336 2692

South (03) 6233 3818

Services include information on the impacts of family violence on adults, children and young people; individual support and counselling, and group work programs for individuals affected by family violence.

Offender Program

Since 2004, the family violence offender intervention program has been helping offenders to stop patterns of behaviour that result in family violence. There is an initial screening process conducted by police to assess offenders. Those who are determined to be at a high risk of reoffending or increasing violence are referred to the program. Victims are kept informed of the progress of the offender. A detailed discussion of the program is available on the Safe At Home website. The Offender Program helps to rehabilitate offenders, and create means by which offenders can understand how and why they offend, and create better relationships in their  family lives.

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