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Victoria’s Hospitality Workers Trained to Identify Family Violence

New initiative aims to enhance community safety and empower workers to act, says Minister Vicki Ward. Victoria's hospitality workers will soon receive mandatory training to help them identify and respond to family violence risks. This groundbreaking initiative, led by Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence Vicki Ward, aims to create safer communities and ensure women can move freely without fear.

Melbourne, Victoria

Spark of Change

The idea stemmed from discussions ignited by a speech given by Deborah de Rossi, CEO of You Matter, a Melbourne-based family violence charity. These conversations highlighted a critical issue for hospitality workers: witnessing signs of violence without knowing how to respond.


Minister Ward explained, "This training is about shifting our collective mindset to foster safer environments for everyone. Success will be when women feel secure enough to walk to their cars without gripping their keys in fear."


Training Integration

The new training will be integrated into the Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) course, essential for anyone serving alcohol in Victoria. It will cover recognising signs of sexual assault, harassment, and family violence, and outline appropriate responses, including when to contact police. The training will be required for new RSA certifications and during triennial refresher courses.


De Rossi recounted how hospitality workers often see the aftermath of violence in hotel rooms. "It's heartbreaking for them to witness signs of distress and not know what to do," she said.


Support and Implementation

De Rossi welcomed the government's initiative, emphasising the importance of awareness and education. "This training represents a crucial step in creating change, though there’s still a long way to go," she noted. You Matter has already collaborated with hotels and real estate agents to provide high-quality furniture for women setting up new homes.


Broader Reforms

This training is part of a $100 million government plan to combat violence against women. Key aspects of the plan include setting a minimum length for family violence intervention orders and giving police more power to extend safety notices. Although some measures have faced criticism, particularly concerning misidentification of victims, Ward assured that all changes would be made in consultation with experts.


"Bias, whether conscious or unconscious, is a significant issue, especially for First Nations women," Ward said. "We must address this to ensure our reforms protect the right individuals."


Long-Term Vision

Ward's role involves leading cultural change efforts among young people, focusing on issues like consent, gender, and violence. This includes appointing MP Tim Richardson as parliamentary secretary for men’s behaviour change, emphasising positive male role models.


While acknowledging that cultural shifts may take decades, Ward remains optimistic. "We've made significant progress. For example, recent swift actions against inappropriate behaviour among students show we no longer dismiss such conduct as harmless."


Potential National Impact

If other Australian states follow Victoria's lead and implement similar training programs, several outcomes could be expected:


1. Increased Awareness and Responsiveness: Hospitality workers across the country would be better equipped to recognise and respond to signs of family violence, potentially preventing further harm.

2. Unified Standards: A nationwide approach could lead to standardised training across states, ensuring consistency in how family violence is identified and addressed in the hospitality sector.

3. Community Safety: Enhanced training could contribute to overall community safety, making public spaces safer for everyone, especially women.

4. Sector-Wide Cultural Shift: The hospitality industry nationwide could experience a cultural shift towards greater responsibility and vigilance regarding family violence, fostering a safer and more supportive environment.

5. Support for Victims: Victims of family violence might feel more supported and confident in seeking help, knowing that trained individuals in public spaces can assist them.

6. Collaborative Efforts: States could collaborate and share best practices, leading to improved training programs and strategies for combating family violence.


For support, the national family violence counselling service in Australia is available at 1800 737 732. International helplines can be found via www.befrienders.org.

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