Domestic violence bystander training makes community members champions of change

November 24, 2021

A new domestic violence bystander pilot program being delivered to Sunshine Coast businesses this week aims to build community capacity to eliminate violence against women at every level.

The Domestic Violence Bystander training, being held on 25 November to coincide with International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, focuses on increasing participants understanding of what violence against women is and the harm caused by violence against women.

The training program is a joint initiative between Lifeline Queensland and the Sunshine Coast Family Law Pathways Network, for UnitingCare Queensland.

Sunshine Coast Family Law Pathways Network Project Officer Carolyn Beaton said the ripple effects of domestic violence were far reaching— and as friends, colleagues and members of the community— everyone is impacted.

“One of our key messages is ‘violence against women is everyone’s business’,” she said.

“An active bystander can be a friend, work colleague or community member and speaks up when confronted with behaviours and attitudes which excuse, blame or minimise violence against women.”

The Queensland Police Service has identified more than 1800 incidents of Sunshine Coast residents breaching domestic violence Protection Orders in the last 12 months. However, this only reveals a small fraction of the impact of domestic violence in the local community, with many incidents going unreported.

Ms Beaton said it was important to create awareness and understanding of what domestic and family violence looks like to better equip community members with the confidence to recognise and respond to domestic violence concerns in a safe and helpful way.

“The half-day training program will provide participants with the confidence to discuss domestic and family violence and sexual harassment with family, friends and work colleagues, providing the tools and skills to be an active bystander,” she said.

“It is a proactive approach to building community capacity to eliminate violence against women at every level, and we hope that participants will become champions for this type of training and encourage others to participate.”

The free pilot program will be held at the Suncoast Community Legal Service, and is being offered on an invitation only basis ahead of being rolled out on a fee-for-service basis next year.