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Up to One in Three victims of sexual assault and at least One in Three victims of family violence and abuse is male (see our overview of research page). While many services have quite rightly been established over past decades to support female victims of family violence, the needs of male victims remain largely unmet.

Historically government policies have been based on the assumption that perpetrators are men and victims are women and children, and the policies of current governments are still largely based upon this erroneous position. Indeed, regretfully, the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children did not include male victims in their otherwise laudable March 2009 recommendations. Their report, Time for Action: The National Council's Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009-20211,  states:

Why is the Plan of Action focused on women and their children? While both women and men can be perpetrators and/or victims of sexual assault and domestic and family violence, research shows that the overwhelming majority of violence and abuse is perpetrated by men against women... This Plan of Action... focuses primarily on the rights of the majority of victims of domestic and family violence and sexual assault, women and their children.

Why a large minority of victims - at least one third - doesn’t deserve support is never explained. The Plan focuses only on the needs of women and children, neglecting the government's legal and moral obligation to provide services and support for the substantial male population of victims of sexual assault and family violence:

Violence against women and their children is wrong. It is a fundamental breach of human rights... No woman should be a victim of sexual assault or domestic and family violence... Australian women and their children have a right to protection from violence... Services [are required to] meet the needs of women and their children.

Using this rationale, Governments would stop providing suicide-prevention or heart disease programs to females (as the minority of suicides and heart disease diagnoses are female). Sensibly they don’t do this, so why ignore male victims of family violence and abuse just because they might be in the minority?

The Time For Action report has been enthusiastically supported by the federal government and the Council of Australian Governments. The previous federal Labor government commited $44.5 million over four years to reduce violence against women and their children. Only $0.75 million was commited to expanding counselling services for male victims of domestic violence through Mensline. The current federal Coalition government has committed $100 million to reduce violence against women and their children, with nothing for male victims of family violence. This funding for women is of course laudable, but men need funding for services and support too. This conscious neglect of males is in itself a form of social violence – Australian Governments have human rights obligations that require them to cater equitably for the needs of all, regardless of gender. One in three is enough to reject the politics of ideology. It is time to care for all those in need, whether male or female. Now is the time for action by politicians and community leaders to recognise that a comprehensive approach is required to combat the scourge of family violence.

To send a message to Australian Governments that all victims of violence and abuse deserve services and support, click here.

I made two attempts to report her assaults to the police and they didn’t want to know. One officer said to me, ‘For your sake and for ours we might as well not drag this into court. The magistrate won’t believe that a woman is capable of something like that’. Kevin

1 The National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009, Time for Action: The National Council’s Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra. https://www.dss.gov.au/women/programs-services/reducing-violence/the-national-plan-to-reduce-violence-against-women-and-their-children-2010-2022