Police and community members are important sources, but they are not the only sources.
Half the sources used in reporting about violence against women are from the police or criminal justice system1. Only around 10 per cent of sources are violence against women specialists and only around nine per cent are survivors of violence2.
Violence against women specialists and survivors can add an important dimension to your reporting on this issue.
Specialist sources include domestic, family and sexual violence organisations, services and academics. Violence against women specialists can talk about the nature of violence, why it happens, underlying drivers, power and control, impacts on victims, accountability for perpetrators and systemic issues.
Community-sector services, in particular, have relatively few resources and may be unable to provide comment at short notice. Building relationships with these services may help to facilitate more urgent requests for comment.
Find a list of national and state-based domestic, family and sexual violence peak bodies and other key organisations, below.
Visit the 1800RESPECT service directory for more specialist organisations and services, throughout Australia.
With the right support, survivors and their family and friends can share their stories in the media and give a human face to the statistics about violence against women. When communities can see and hear women tell their stories they are more likely to empathise and engage with the issue.
Women speaking out publicly about their experiences can also provide a catalyst for the change needed to end violence against women. For example, Rosie Batty’s advocacy helped to bring about the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence and the reversal of federal funding cuts to the legal assistance sector.
When reporting on violence, remember that the survivors have been through trauma and the way you share their story may impact on their healing. Watch this video about the impact of reporting on survivors.
To speak with a survivor, contact a service that provides the Voices for Change program.
Police can describe ‘incidents’ of crime. While this can be useful, some problems with this include that:
Neighbours, friends, family and colleagues can tell you about their perceptions of the relationship, the perpetrator and the victim. This can be problematic because domestic violence is usually hidden—community members cannot know what happens “behind closed doors”.