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Sunday, 5 June 2016

A Resilient and Strong Vine (J.M. Yates) Reflects: "The Vine Bleeds" Author Talk at Mentone Public Library - 11am, Saturday, 28th May 2016

A Resilient and Strong Vine Speaks:
Author J.M.Yates Reflects on her Recent Talk at Mentone Public Library to Present "The Vine Bleeds."
- 11am, Saturday, 28th May 2016

Presenting my memoir during domestic violence month in the intimate atmosphere of the Mentone Library was a privilege....

Janice Munt introduced the theme of domestic violence with alarming statistics of domestic violence in Kingston. 

This provided me with an excellent lead into the aspects of family abuse that I intended to discuss. My story of a childhood dominated by domestic violence and the resultant life choices of myself and my brother resonated with some in the audience who recalled similar incidents in their past. It brought smiles to others as I recalled things that were in the past that are no longer in the present.

Family abuse for the victim is horrific, even more so for children, who witness the abuse. They are the silent watchers.  Now my memoir is published, I hope that it will be used as a discussion tool to educate the public and perpetrators, and help victims and most of all children to seek assistance. Our governments are now working to ensure that help is available. 

The following statistics focus on the City of Kingston before branching out statewide. Mentone Public Library thanks Janice Munt; politician for the Australian Labor Party, for compiling,presenting and giving us permission to publish this information on our blog: 


  Janice Munt - Australian Labor Party
(Former member for Mordialloc: 2002 - 2010) 

·        Violence in whatever form it takes has long lasting and terrible consequences.
     Women bear the largest burden, with one in three experiencing violence at some time during their lifetimes.
             It’s not an easy statistic to get your head around.
     But it means that every third woman you pass in the street, every third woman you meet at the school gate, every third woman you speak to has or will experience violence.
·        The police tell us that in Kingston alone in the 12 months to the end of 2014  there were 1,313 incidents of family violence reported to police. This figure will be even higher when the 2015 figures are collated.
     State wide, 75,000 incidents were reported for the previous 12 months, an increase of 8.2% over the previous year. Nearly 40,000 more incidents than in 2010!

·        Australia wide we are currently tracking at 2 murdered women a week

·        Half of the crimes committed against the person, were committed in the home, the place where we are supposed to be safest!

·        The great majority of these crimes were committed by men against women and men against men (fathers and sons etc)

·        But for me, thinking about Family Violence becomes particularly problematic when I think about the terrible consequences Family Violence poses for children

·        Children were present to witness the crimes of family violence on approximately one third of all incidents reported to police.

·        That means that over 400 children in Kingston witnessed family violence in the 12months to March 2015 alone, and over 25,000 children state-wide
           Of the 1088 murders in the past 10 years across Australia, 21% were children.  80% of these victims were under 9 years of age.
·        And if you think that the impact on kids is only at the more extreme end of family violence think again.
·        A recent study by LaTrobe University looked at less severe family conflict such as verbal abuse and found that this form of inter-parental conflict increases the chances that the child will develop mental and physical health problems down the track.
·        Children’s brains actually change as a consequence of the violence and the inevitable stress and anxiety that goes with it.
·        We see developmental problems, relational problems, and emotional problems in addition to the physical and health problems that arise from the violence.
·        What’s doubly distressing is the knowledge that the children exposed to Family Violence are at higher risk of perpetrating violence in adult life.
·        Tackling family violence is going to require some tough conversations and meeting some tough challenges.
·        Our whole-of-government submission to the Royal Commission, which is well underway, embraces that there are significant challenges ahead in eliminating this harm.
·        The submission identified 10 key gaps in Victoria’s broken family violence system. Let me just highlight these gaps that we must overcome in order to properly address family violence:
1.     There is a lack of measurability towards the scale and breadth of family violence in Victoria.
2.     Prevention programs and frameworks have experienced a lack of consistency and resourcing.
3.     The limited understanding of the impact of family violence on children, in both the immediate and long-term stages.
4.     Responses to family violence are poorly resourced, despite a growth in demand.
-         Family violence is a significantly under-reported crime. Assistant Commissioner Tim Cartwright has stated that research in New Zealand indicates that one in three incidences of Family Violence are going unreported.
-         We must ensure that those who are seeking assistance have access to help.
5.     There is an inconsistency and lack of tailored responses to groups that are at high-risk to family violence.
-         You are at greater risk of Family Violence if you are, first and foremost a woman, but also if you have a disability, if you are from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse background, if you are aboriginal, if you live outside Melbourne, if you are aged between 20-44 AND if you are pregnant – I visited the women’s hospital (27% of pregnant women patients at the Women’s had experienced Family Violence for the first time during their pregnancies).
6.     The weak legal system is failing to hold perpetrators to account.
7.     The current justice system is riddled with complexities and is inaccessible.
8.     Response models are lacking integration and robust governance structures.  
9.     There are barriers to sharing information.
10.    The challenges to working with the Commonwealth Government.
Ø The Royal Commission into Family Violence has made 227 recommendations and we will implement all of them.
Ø Already we have:
Ø Increased the Budget from around $80 million to $572. But this is just the start!
Ø Put in place the Family Violence Index
Ø Announced Family Violence Leave for the State’s Public Service workers (to attend court, medical appointments etc), an initiative that is now being picked up and implemented in the private sector.
Ø Consulted very widely with stakeholder groups
Ø Started work on the 65 most urgent RCFV recommendations.
Tackling family violence is going to require some tough conversations and meeting some tough challenges.
·        And although it is for some a difficult concept to grasp, there is no denying that at the heart of this violence against women is gender inequality. Perpetrators exercise physical, emotional and financial violence to establish their control and to erode their victim’s agency.
·        We have taken the first steps in challenging what has for too long been a private issue in the home and a general inequality in our community.. We are determined to make real and lasting change.


 Thank-you Message from Mentone Public Library

J.M. we are truly indebted to you for your strength and raw honesty in bringing this topic and your personal account to our library, and in turn raising awareness to our community. While the issue of domestic violence is no longer a conversation concealed behind silenced, closed doors, and now very much in the public domain of collective consciousness and responsibility, I don't think we realised just how big of an issue domestic violence is on our very own doorsteps here in the City of Kingston and state of Victoria. 

Your presentation was poignant, eloquently delivered and will resonate with us for a long time to come. 
We additionally express our gratitude for the support of City of Kingston Councillors for the Central Ward; Cr Geoff Gledhill and Cr Ron Brownlees, and the carefully prepared contribution of Janice Munt of the Australian labor Party.

To learn more about or purchase a copy of the book, please visit the author's website:

Copies of the book can also be purchased from the publisher at Brolga Publishing: 

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