Quick Exit
With Respect is not a crisis response service. For crisis responses phone:
  • 000 Victoria Police for immediate safety
  • 1800 RESPECT family violence and sexual assault 24-hour telephone support
  • 1800 015 188 Safe Steps Victoria available 24 hours for crisis support for women
To leave this site quickly, click the quick exit button.


Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:43

Elder abuse and LGBTIQ

Seniors Rights Victoria defines elder abuse as ‘mistreatment of an older person that is committed by someone with whom the older person has a relationship of trust such as a partner, child or other family member, friend or paid carer.’ Where the person is a family member or in a family-like relationship, such abuse will also be family violence.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:43

Young people and family violence

Rejection of LGBTIQ young people by their family of origin, due to their sexuality, gender identity or intersex status, is a strong predictor of internalised stigma, depression and suicidality as well as a range of poor health and wellbeing outcomes, which are risk factors of family and intimate partner violence. Rejection by a family of origin may include the use of physical violence against a young person, neglect, or forced homelessness by eviction from the family home.

Monday, 13 July 2020 15:03

First Nations & LGBTIQ

Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or First Nations LGBTIQ people, sistergirls, and brotherboys may experience exclusion or discrimination in their community, friendship or family networks when they disclose their gender diversity, sexuality or intersex status. Conversely, others find their families and communities are a strong source of support.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:40

Regional, Rural & LGBTIQ

There are some factors which are unique to the experience of family violence for LGBTIQ people in rural, regional and outer-metropolitan areas.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:38

Priority Populations


This information is intended to give a summary overview of some key issues of priority populations, however it is not a definitive list of all priority populations nor the issues they may face. This information will be expanded over time as information, emerging issues, evidence and data on priority populations come to light.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:28

Practice Guide

Assessing the risk of family violence

The new Risk Assessment Framework commences on 1 September 2018 and guides the work of family violence workers and other professionals conducting formal risk assessments.

The policy and practice guide accompanying the framework includes examples of the types of family violence that may be particular to LGBTIQ communities. For instance, professionals should be aware of the following when working with people from LGBTIQ communities:

  • LGBTIQ communities face additional barriers to identifying and reporting family violence, and accessing appropriate services. Previous experiences of discrimination, or a lack of understanding and awareness, may result in a distrust in the service systems and an unwillingness to access services or report family violence.
  • Some community members may prefer to interact with LGBTIQ-specific rather than universal services.
  • LGBTIQ people may be in what appear to be same-sex or heterosexual intimate partner relationships.
  • LGBTIQ communities have a wide variety of experiences, and should not be treated as one homogenous group.

Many of the considerations below in relation to safety planning also apply to assessing risk.

Safety planning and working with LGBTIQ people

There are some key considerations when providing family violence support to LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence, which can include safety planning. Some of these considerations are:

  • LGBTIQ people experience threats to their wellbeing due to homophobia, biphobia, intersexphobia and transphobia which can manifest in physical and psychological abuse, harassment, discrimination or economic disadvantage. This can lead to a mistrust of services particularly where LGBTIQ inclusive practice is not immediately evident.
  • Family violence against LGBTIQ people can be invisible or not taken as seriously due to heteronormative assumptions about what constitutes family and relationships.
  • LGBTIQ people may have reduced social connections due to experiences of exclusion, discrimination and violence within important interpersonal relationships. These can include family members or others such as people from religious communities.
  • Circumstances by which LGBTIQ people become parents can vary and parenting responsibilities may involve more than two parents or co-parents. Some families include children who live across two or more homes or children may live in stepfamilies where a sole parent begins a new relationship.
  • Not all LGBTIQ people are ‘out’ in the community. When identifying supports do not presume family, workplaces and community members are aware of a person’s relationship, gender identity or the extent of the danger they are facing.
  • Some transgender people may not have identification documentation which reflects their appearance or gender identity, or meets the expectations or needs of service providers. This may add complications to accessing various support services including income support programs or emergency housing. Some people may fear outingthemselves by presenting their identification.
  • LGBTIQ people may request different information to be provided to different services they access as part of feeling safer and to ensure services will treat them well or with respect.
  • Some people may assume there are no services that can support them, or may be unaware of available services.
  • Not all LGBTIQ people will be eligible for services where children can also attend or stay. In such cases alternatives may need to be explored to address some service gaps in their area.

Practitioners can address some of these issues in the following ways:

  • Ask open questions about who is in their family and their relationships rather than making assumptions.
  • Actively talk through how to best engage children in safety planning.
    Consider that safety plans which include a child’s welfare may need to include procedures and steps taken by more than one household – for example a lesbian mother experiencing violence from her partner may need to share plans with a male donor who also co-parents. Such circumstances can influence how LGBTIQ people seek legal protection or safety for their children.
  • Identify support options among friends and within the person’s community as there may be estrangement from the family of origin.
    Work collaboratively and ask permission to share knowledge with agencies nominated in a safety plan.
  • Ascertain what agencies have done to build cultural safety for a victim/survivor’s particular needs before engaging with them. For example, a service saying they are LGBTIQ friendly does not ensure a safe environment for a trans woman. Before referring a client, check for a service’s experience working with particular cohorts and what sort of things they did to support them.
  • Ensure risk assessments accurately capture the relationship with the perpetrator and identify others who may be at risk. For example, a woman may be in a relationship with another woman but experiencing abuse from an ex-male partner who is threatening to harm them both.
  • Identify LGBTIQ liaison officers and warm contact points to services. This will minimise risks with services which may discriminate against or exclude the person you refer. A couple of ways to do this are by sharing information with services and professionals who are LGBTIQ-friendly or where specialist gaps exist seek a secondary consultation with w|respect.
  • When first meeting someone, ask them for their pronouns and their partner’s, and gain permission to use these pronouns when sharing their information.
  • Understand a person’s pronouns, and preferred name may differ to what is on written records — support people and, with their consent, ensure steps are taken in case documentation and collaborative case management to assert the person’s gender identity.
  • Ask if services you refer to collect data and information with tools which do not reinforce assumptions about people’s sex, gender identity or sexuality, and which allow for non-binary gender options.
  • Appreciate the complexity of confidentiality within smaller LGBTIQ communities and support people to take steps in safety planning which are mindful perpetrators may be present at events, support groups, services or community venues. Assist people to assert personal boundaries in social circles where familiarity with the perpetrator may create risk.
  • Discuss information collected and how it will be shared so their LGBTIQ identity or identities is not unexpectedly shared.
Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:24

Children and Parenting

Children can add another layer to considerations about whether to stay in an abusive relationship. If a person you support is experiencing family violence and they have children with their partner or from a previous relationship, they need to seek legal advice.

Children’s experience of family violence

It is important to note the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 states any behaviour which causes a child to hear, witness or otherwise be exposed to violence between adults itself constitutes family violence, this includes seeing signs or effects of the family violence on the abused person or people.

Some of the others ways children can experience family violence are:

  • Being used to inflict abuse. An abusive partner can use child access as a form of abuse and control against a person. They may try to turn children against the other parent or undermine the other person or people parenting (like a co-parent), grandparenting or other guardian-type role, or encourage resentment towards a person because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or gender diverse or have an intersex variation;
  • Being victims of abuse. Children may be physically or emotionally abused directly by an abusive person and in some cases by one or more of their parents, carers, or family members (such as siblings). Violence may be experienced in the context of abuse among other or multiple family members. For sex and gender diverse children or LGBTIQ young people abuse may also be homo/bi/intersex/transphobically motivated.

Children may have parents or other family members from  LGBTIQ communities or cisgender heterosexual parents, or the children experiencing abuse may be from LGBTIQ communities themselves.  Children who experience family violence can suffer many negative effects ranging from short-term physical injuries to long-term emotional or psychological trauma no matter what the diversity of their families. All children who experience family violence are affected by it in some way.

Mandatory reporting of child abuse

In Victoria, all adults have an obligation to report suspected sexual abuse of a child.

If they believe the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of physical injury or sexual abuse, and the child’s parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm, the following professionals are required to report to Child Protection:

  • registered medical practitioner;
  • nurse;
  • midwife;
  • teachers and school principals;
  • members of the police force.

Anyone else who has concerns about the welfare of a child can make a report to Child Protection.

Who is a parent?

While all parents will have difficult choices to weigh up, uncertainty about a person’s status as a parent can be a tool of power or control — for example where it is suggested or perceived that the other parent will not be recognised by the law as a parent if they were to leave the relationship.

If someone is a parent by law, their sexuality, gender identity or intersex status does not affect whether their child has a right to a relationship with them.

Victorian legislation provides some clarity on who is a parent and Victorian birth certificates now recognise non-biological parents. This is a complicated area of the law, but in summary:

  • At first instance, the best way to determine who is a parent is by looking at the child’s birth certificate;
  • If a child is born of a woman as a result of an artificial contraception procedure (this includes home insemination or IVF) whilst that woman was in a de facto relationship, and the partner consents to the procedure regardless of who provided the genetic material, the woman and her partner (regardless of gender) by law are the intended parents;
  • If a gay male couple conceives a child with a woman via artificial insemination they are not legally deemed to be the parents of that child, even though the partner who donated the sperm is the child’s biological father;
  • If someone enters into an altruistic surrogacy arrangement, whereby an unpaid volunteer surrogate carries a child for the intending parent/s, the intending parents must apply for a substitute parentage order from the County Court to be named as the legal parents on the child’s birth certificate;
  • If a person entered into an overseas commercial surrogacy arrangement, the laws of the relevant State will apply as International commercial surrogacy is not legal in every state. In Victoria overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements are legal and parents can apply to the court for parental responsibility.

The above information is only meant as a guide and legal advice should be sought if there is any uncertainty about a person’s status as a parent.

Parenting orders post-separation

There is a general presumption that it is in the best interests of a child that parents have equal shared parental responsibility for them. The exception is where a parent has engaged in abuse of the child or family violence. When determining a child’s best interests and determining parenting orders or responsibility, the Court’s primary considerations are:

  • The benefit to children of a meaningful relationship with both parents; and
  • The need to protect children from physical or psychological harm arising from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence — greater weight will be given to this consideration.

Any history of family violence should be reported to the Court so that it can take this into account.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:21

Financial support

Flexible support packages

Financial support is available through flexible support packages. Flexible Family Violence Support Packages are designed to enable a rapid response through the provision of personalised packages to people who:

  • are experiencing, or who have experienced, family violence; and,
  • who have a case management plan through a family violence service.

Family Support Packages can assist clients to access support, move out of crisis, stabiliseand improve their safety, well-being and independence. For example, funds can be put towards relocation costs, security, set up costs, school uniforms amongst other items.

w|respect can refer clients to agencies who administer Flexible Support Packages and also support clients to apply for them.

Compensation for victims of crime

People who have experienced family violence that amounts to a criminal offense have rights under the Victims’ Charter Act 2006 (Vic), and may also be eligible for compensation from the State through the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal.

The Victims’ Charter Act sets out requirements about how government agencies (e.g. the police, hospitals, health services) and a range of service providers should treat someone who has been a victim of crime. To apply for financial assistance from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal a person must be a victim of a violent crime that caused injury or loss. Injury means actual physical bodily harm or mental impairment or emotional disorder. Read more at the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:19

Separation and Divorce

Property division after separation

Some LGBTIQ people may have concerns about whether their relationships will be recognised and their financial assets protected when they separate, given the relatively recent changes to the law.

In summary, laws regarding property division after separation apply equally to all partners regardless of the gender of those involved. Married and de facto couples are able to make an application for a property settlement under the Family Law Act. Further advice on separation and divorce should be sought from a Victoria Legal Aid community legal centre or private solicitors. Fitzroy and St Kilda Legal Services have LGBTIQ-friendly family law clinics and are able to refer people to a private solicitor with experience working in LGBTIQ family violence and family law matters.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:17

LGBTIQ people using family violence

The development of services and specialised programs for LGBTIQ people using violence is an emerging space. WithRespect’s integrated service model offers case management services for people using violence against partners or family members as well as people experiencing family violence.

In the absence of comprehensive evidence on LGBTIQ perpetrators, w|respect will aim to develop evidence and build on existing family and intimate partner violence data. In the interim, the integrated services offered by w|respect will ensure thorough assessment and differential response to both perpetrators and victim survivors while maintaining strong focus on safety and managing risks.

A number of service providers are working towards more inclusive service provision and broadening the scope of existing programs which can meet the needs of LGBTIQ cohorts experiencing or using violence. Service providers seeking to make referrals or access support clients from LGBTIQ communities are encouraged to phone w|respect on 1800 LGBTIQ for the most up to date information.

Page 3 of 6

1800 LGBTIQ | 1800 542 847