Reduction in family and domestic violence (FDV) is a national and international priority. Under the Third Action Plan (2016–2019) of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022, National Priority Area 3 focuses on primary revention practices, and assisting communities to better support women and their children who are experiencing violence at home. Specifically, action 3.9(b) has a commitment to ‘build the capacity of community and faith leaders to reject, prevent and respond to violence’. At a state level the 2016 Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence drew attention to the role of faith communities in FDV, describing faith communities as ‘vital settings’ for dealing with family violence and recognising the trust and authority faith leaders have withintheir communities to influence attitudes. Similarly in 2015 a Queensland Government Special Taskforce on Domestic Violence undertaken by former Governer General Quentin Bryce also drew attention to the need for capacity building among faith leaders and communities regarding family and domestic violence.
Settings based approaches are recognised as essential to preventing and addressing FDV (Flood 2007). Attention to how these issues may uniquely play out across contexts and populations such as in different workplaces and professions, sports clubs, schools, rural and regional areas, and ethnic and migrant groups is now best practice.
However to date there has been very limited attention across research, policy or practice on FDV within faith based settings and on attitudes, beliefs and responses to FDV among faith leaders and communities in Australia or globally. Given that faith and religion plays a central role in the lives of many individuals and communities it is imperative that this under-addressed issue be given attention. An increased understanding of the attitudes of individuals, families and leaders within faith-based communities is critically needed to inform future best-practice approaches to prevention, early intervention and responses to FDV within these communities.
This report outlines the findings from a consultation project commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. The project is led by researchers from the Australian National University. There is considerable religious and cultural heterogeneity across families, communities and within faiths in Australia with over 40 religions and over 300 cultural backgrounds identified with many forms of religious and faith expressions and beliefs. As such this project focuses on some communities and is not intended to be representative of all faith and religious groups, or to be representative of all those who practice faiths included in this study.