‘Faith Communities Supporting Healthy Family Relationships‘ is a Participatory Action Research project established by the Multifaith Advisory Group based on recommendations 163 and 165 of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. It is funded by Multicultural Affairs within the Department of Premier and Cabinet and is being implemented in partnership between University of Melbourne and the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health.
Phase I – A review of literature and consultations with stakeholders and leaders from different religious communities. This resulted in the development of a Technical Paper that provides evidence about best, promising and emerging practices to build the capacity of faith-based organisations, faith communities and, especially, faith leaders to effectively prevent and respond to family violence and violence against women.
The Evidence Guide and Tip Sheet distils the key principles of effective work in faith settings for prevention and response to violence against women.
Phase II – The Multifaith Advisory Group nominated five faith communities to be supported to develop, implement and evaluate a leadership capacity building initiative. This 18-month phase of the project will generate evidence about what works (and what does not) to build capacity of faith leaders to respond to and prevent violence against women and family violence. The faith communities approaches for this phase are the:
- Anglican Diocese (Melbourne)
- Uniting Church (Vic and Tas)
- Buddhist community
- Sikh community
- Multifaith approach (Faith Communities Council of Victoria)
What’s the issue?
Family and domestic violence is a serious moral and spiritual concern. Faith or spiritual leaders play an influential role in shaping attitudes and behaviours amongst their faith communities and therefore are in a unique position to prevent violence against women. Faith leaders are often the first people survivors of domestic violence turn to for spiritual guidance and support before or instead of secular domestic violence services. They, therefore, sit in a distinctive position where they can provide counsel, support and safety to victim survivors. However, faith leaders may be limited in their capacity to respond appropriately to family violence.
Building the prevention and response capacity of faith leaders is critical in raising awareness about the issue of family violence within faith communities. Watch this short video on the need to invest in faith leaders as potential partners in preventing violence against women:
How will the project make a difference?
The Faith Communities Supporting Healthy Family Relationships project is contributing to the evidence base for ‘what works’ within the faith communities. In particular, the project develops the capacity of faith communities to:
- Increase knowledge about family violence and gendered drivers of violence
- Change attitudes and challenge behaviours that condone family violence
- Publicly demonstrate that they do not tolerate violence against women, and that they reject gender inequality
- Access resources that can guide an appropriate response to a person experiencing or using violence.
- Appropriately respond to disclosures of family violence, including spiritual support and referral to specialist services
- Develop partnerships with local specialist services
Our Technical Paper provides evidence about best, promising and emerging practices to build the capacity of faith-based organisations, faith communities and, especially, faith leaders to effectively prevent and respond to family violence and violence against women.
Violence against women (and violence in families) has multiplied during the times of lockdown with people confronted with heretofore unseen and unknown stresses on their income, their relationships – even their meaning and purpose. The Faith Communities Council of Victoria assembled an expert panel to discuss – and answer questions – during an online session on Wednesday, 25th November 2020.