The Standing Committee of the Anglican Church of Australia has made ten commitments to prevent and respond to intimate partner violence (IPV), after undertaking the first known Australian Church study into the prevalence of IPV within its faith community.
IPV is defined as behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours.
IPV is defined as behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours. The Australian Institute of Family Studies states that IPV is the most common form of family violence used against women in Australia and takes place across all cultures and faith groups.
Convenor of the Anglican Church of Australia’s Family Violence Working Group, Rev. Tracy Lauersen, said the Church has deliberately taken the lead on a broader societal issue. “Following considerable public discussion in 2016 about IPV, we felt duty-bound to better understand its nature and prevalence in our community and develop and implement more effective responses,” she said. “As a result, we embarked on a two-year project – three in-depth research reports into the prevalence, a study of clergy and lay leaders, and one-on-one interviews to capture personal experiences within our community.” The research, commissioned by the Church and conducted by NCLS Research, produced 28 top line findings, which included: the prevalence of IPV among Anglicans was the same or higher than in the wider Australian community; most clergy felt that having women on the pastoral team equips a church to better respond to domestic violence; and that perpetrators misuse Christian teachings and positional power. “All Anglicans will feel deep sadness over these results,” the Primate of the Anglican Church, the Most Rev. Geoffrey Smith said. “But armed with this data we can develop a better response to protect those within our church communities from domestic violence.” “There is a strong resolve among the Church leadership to address the problem and to provide an appropriate response and adequate support for victims,” he said. Rev. Lauersen added that as a Church, they grieve with the victims and survivors of IPV, pray for healing and recovery, and commit to doing more to prevent it happening. “This research has lifted the veil and highlighted how big the problem is not just in Australia but within our Anglican community also,” she said. In response to the research findings, the Anglican Church has developed and endorsed the ten commitments to improve the way IPV is addressed within its faith community. They are focused on cultural change, education, training and support. “There is positive work being done by dioceses across the country, but as this research demonstrates there are gaps which we are committed to addressing,” Rev. Lauersen said. “We are forever grateful to those who took part in our research project, from members of the clergy and lay leaders to survivors and victims across the country, for they are helping to drive change in the Anglican Church and, we hope, more broadly across Australia.”
For more information, visit anglican.org.au/our-work/family-violence