The Navy family received a boost recently with the launch of a specific strategy to prevent, respond to and support victims of family and domestic violence.
“Family is important to me and it’s important to you. So we’re working hard to ensure they’re supported and protected.”
These words from Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett echoed throughout the fleet as he launched the Navy Family and Domestic Violence Strategy on 30 September.
To reinforce the message all Navy units around the nation held a clear lower deck to view the webcast featuring Chief of Navy’s message.
At the clear lower deck, Commanding Officers were required to discuss the objectives of the strategy.
All units were also encouraged to conduct a ‘celebrate Navy families’ event in the form of a social gathering such as a BBQ, walk, games afternoon or other family-oriented activities.
Everyone from the Commanding Officer down at Canberra base, HMAS Harman, grabbed family members and braved cold and blustery conditions for a walk around Lake Burley Griffin.
“Without the support of our families, we really couldn’t do our jobs, so no matter what the weather, rain, hail or shine, we walked to both celebrate our Navy families and raise awareness of issues surrounding family and domestic violence,” Commander Alison Westwood said.
For the crew of frigate, HMAS Anzac, a family barbecue and baked goods were their focus in Sydney. Leading Seaman Communication and Informatin Systems Meagan Donnellan is renowned in Anzac for her baking and used the occasion to spend time with those who support her in service.
"I had a lot of fun baking cupcakes with my family and this was an enjoyable way to raise funds for such a great cause," she said.
Anzac’s Assistant Weapons Electrical Engineering OfficerSub Lieutenant Adam Klyne said that the entire ship's company knew the importance of recognising the signs to support mates in need.
“Violent households damage relationships for all concerned. This behaviour can filter into the workplace with unfortunate consequences to unit cohesion and a ship’s ability to achieve their mission,” he said.
This is relatively new ground for Navy in terms of extending support to families and addressing what has traditionally been considered a private issue.
Chief of Navy said domestic violence was a significant issue for our society which affected Navy people as well as their families.
“It is a matter I take seriously. It destroys lives and relationships, erodes unit cohesion and affects your ability to do your job well,” he said.
“I am proud of the efforts Navy people take to maintain a safe workplace, and we want to ensure that everyone feels safe in their homes as well. Look after your families, and look out for your workmates, too. If something doesn’t look right, ask them if they’re okay and make sure your Command knows to look out for them, too.
“I require all Navy personnel to understand the strategy and how we are all part of preventing and responding to family and domestic violence, and supporting those affected.
“Remember, we can’t do our job effectively without the support of our families.
“Let’s celebrate our families and make sure the Navy family at home, and at work, is a safe one.”
Deputy Chief of Staff Navy Strategic Command Captain Bruce Legge said such violence was an extreme form of unacceptable behaviour and would not be tolerated.
“It doesn’t always involve physical violence; it can be conduct that is threatening, coercive, controlling or intended to cause household members to be fearful,” he said.
“Family and domestic violence is not acceptable in any form and it is in fact fundamentally against our Navy values and signature behaviours.
“This is a complex topic in which no two circumstances will be the same.”
Captain Legge said Navy personnel should always remember the premise of looking out for shipmates.
“Feel empowered to enquire into the welfare of our people and seek advice from specialists if you think it is warranted,” he said.
“Most worryingly, it is likely that this behaviour is affecting some Navy people and their families right now.”
The launch of the strategy continues along Navy's reform and cultural change journey.
It has three objectives:
- Prevent violence by or against Navy people and Navy families.
- Respond when violence occurs that involves Navy people or Navy families.
- Support victims, whether they are Navy families, or victims of violence perpetrated by a Navy member.