Wimmera and Grampian regions have the highest rates of domestic violence in the state, with a lack of resource and isolation a critical factor and a lack of behavioural changes.
The rates from the Crime Stats Agency found many of the Grampians region municipalities have higher rates of domestic violence than the state average and have similarly been above the state average for many reporting periods/years.
Data from the Crime Stats Agency also shows an increase in family violence during COVID-19.
Sexual Assault and Family Violence Centre coordinator Joanne Bates said the most significant factor in fighting domestic violence is a safe community.
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"For each woman, it can be an individual type of support, women being able to seek support is really important and to feel safe doing that," she said.
Ms Bates said COVID-19 had had a severe impact on incidents of domestic violence.
"The COVID-19 pandemic made it really difficult to seek support, given that family violence has increased and women have the perpetrator at home over a long period of time," she said.
"Women in rural and remote areas are geographically isolated, the isolation goes further than that. Offenders will isolate them from family and community."
"With a pandemic women can't go to a local shop or support service they are more isolated again."
Ms Bates said this isolation further impacts shame and fear of reaching out for support.
She said that while domestic violence occurs across the state, there are some reasons why the rates are higher in the Grampians and Wimmera areas.
"It is around the geographic and social isolation as well as other factors," she said.
"We know women don't have access easily when they live in rural and remote areas. We also know those who live in within a township may feel really embarrassed to talk about family violence.
"If a male perpetrator is well known and in role in the community is quite different to the one as home, it can make it really difficult for women to speak up and feel believe."
Ms Bates said it is crucial for people to believe women and children when they speak up about family violence to keep them safe.
"It's a cultural change," Ms Bates said.
"We have to take on board gender inequality. That's a cultural change to respect women and take on teaching young children now."
She said changes are already being made with more work being done around sexual consent and understanding relationships.
"Our communities are starting to take that on board," Ms Bates said.
"Given we have such high rates of domestic violence in our municipality, it's really important to provide a space for women."Horsham Councillor Claudia Haenel
She also said it is important to stand up as a bystander.
"If you do know someone in any way that is abusing a woman or child, we need to speak up," Ms Bates said.
"We need to start saying 'it's not ok'.
"When women are making disclosures around family violence, the community and those around them need to step up and believe them."
The Change the Story National Framework identifies the following drivers as contributing to rates of violence against women; condoning of violence against women, men's control of decision-making and limits to women's independence in public and private life, rigid gender relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women, male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women an gender inequality.
Women's Health Grampians Wimmera Regional Consultant Melissa Morris said in reflection of these statistics, communities are becoming more aware.
"Community awareness and concern about the rates of family violence in the Grampians region is growing," she said.
To help combat these worrying statistics, Women's Health Grampians have developed an alliance.
"The Communities of Respect and Equality Alliance (the CoRE Alliance) will work with organisations such as Councils, health services, community groups, Vic Police, sporting clubs and businesses who want to take action to prevent violence against women and create a safe, equal and respectful community," Ms Morris said.
"The number and diversity of CoRE Alliance members has grown and we now have over 120 organisations that are members."
Horsham Rural City Councillor Claudia Haenel spent hours in May listening to the stories of domestic violence survivors.
Cr Haenel said she wants to use her platform to get the survivors a safe place where they can breathe, a serenity garden.
"Women want a space to call their own and a garden," Cr Haenel said.
"Given we have such high rates of domestic violence in our municipality, it's really important to provide a space for women."
Cr Haenel said the garden would be a symbol that Horsham Rural City Council cares and will listen to women facing domestic violence.
Cr Haenel raised the serenity garden at the Horsham council meeting in May as a notice of motion, and the project will appear on the agenda for a future council meeting.
"I wanted to bring it to light since May was Domestic Violence Prevention month," she said.
"It's so important to listen to the survivors."
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