Tasmania’s Anglican Church vows to do more to stop domestic violence
Tasmania’s Anglican Church is the latest organisation to ramp up its focus on domestic violence.
Members of the church will be trained to recognise the signs of domestic violence and how to respond.
Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, John Harrower, said the Church wanted to deal with the issue head on.
“What we would like to do is better equip our people, both our ministers and our lay people, so that when they are in contact with people who are suffering domestic or family violence, and also with the people who are committing the violence, [they are] wise and trained,” he said.
“It’s a fairly broad brush approach that we are taking, to basically equip ourselves better so that we can understand how to help people who are both suffering and also the perpetrators of the abuse.”
Family violence is the leading cause of death or disability in women under the age of 45 in Australia.
Tasmanian Police said 1,900 cases have been reported this financial year until March – that amounted to about 50 calls a day.
But Mr Harrower said it was still a topic many people were uncomfortable with.
“I think often it’s so overwhelming when you come across one of these terrible situations and you just don’t know where to turn,” he said.
“It can be difficult when these things are happening, especially if they’re happening with a family in a church community and so we need to be trained in how to deal with these people.
“Because we’re Christians, we can too quickly run to forgiveness and think, ‘Oh well, you must forgive the person without actually dealing with the fact that the person is actually doing this terrible thing and they need to change their behaviours’.”
Whole community must be involved: Dean
About 200 church representatives are meeting in Launceston over the next two days for the Tasmanian Anglican Synod.
The Dean of St David’s Cathedral in Hobart, Richard Humphrey, will put a motion to the congregation in an effort to bring the issue of domestic violence into the spotlight.
He said the Church had an important role to play in stamping out the problem.
“Legal frameworks cannot change society values,” he said.
“It must be the society itself which makes the changes, to say violence is unacceptable.
“The whole community needs to be involved in this issue.
“Every community organisation, all levels of society, need to be involved in this.”
Mr Humphrey said the Church needed to look at how it could work the issue into its teachings.
“In marriage preparation courses, which many of us do, to build in material about responding to domestic violence into that pre-marriage education,” he said.
“It might mean, for example, having a poster in your churches so that people know what numbers there are to contact.”
Anglicare Tasmania chief executive Chris Jones said he believed the Church was a good place to start a conversation within the local community.
“We want to be able to air the issue, we want to be able to point to some ways forward, some positive things that people can do to prevent it occurring,” he said.
“We want small, local communities where these issues occur to respond, to resource local people to be able to come up with local solutions.”
See, Tasmania’s Anglican Church vows to do more to stop domestic violence