John Gomez

Inquiry to mark a ‘moment in time’ on DV

THE head of the nation's first Royal Commission examining family violence hopes the inquiry will mark a "moment in time" when the entire community commits to "overcoming this vile problem".

Those were the opening thoughts of Commissioner Marcia Neave, the former Court of Appeal judge leading Victoria's inquiry into the causes and effects of, and possible solutions to family violence.

On Monday, Ms Neave said the problem was so embedded in the nation's culture it would take every community and individual to help stop the scourge of domestic violence.

The inquiry has already received more than 1000 submissions, and while focused on Victoria, it was expected to set the pace for reforms and debate nationally.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Mark Moshinsky QC, told the hearing of the families torn apart, lives ruined and children damaged by family violence in all its forms.

Detailing Australian Institute of Criminology data, Mr Moshinsky said more than 1000 of 2631 murders in Australia between 2003 and 2012 were due to family violence.

Despite efforts to eradicate the problem, he told the hearing it remained a large problem, with one in every six Australian women 15 years or older subject to domestic violence.

"What does this violence say about us as a society here in Victoria, Australia, in 2015?" he said.

"Does it not reflect on us as a society if we allow it to continue?"

Mr Moshinsky said every community, from rural and regional areas to non-English speaking communities in Melbourne was affected by family violence.

He also said submissions and community consultations showed many victims of family violence were left in poverty after escaping violent relationships.

Mr Moshinsky said the victims should not be forced to choose between their personal safety and financial security.

During the first of 20 days of hearings, witnesses from Victoria Police and social services representatives gave introductory evidence to be explored in more detail.

The hearing followed about 40 community consultations across Victoria.

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