Family violence is any behaviour that controls or dominates a family member and causes them to fear for their own or other family members' safety or well-being.

It can include physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional or economic abuse. Any situation that causes a child to hear, witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of those behaviours also falls into this category.

Broad family, past relationships and 'family-like' relationships are included in the law (Family Violence Protection Act 2008).

If you or someone you know has been the victim of family violence, you can report this behaviour and/or seek support from Safer Community.

Report a concern

Seeking help

If you or someone you know has been the victim of family violence you can report this behaviour and/or seek support from Safer Community. 

You can report the behaviour either anonymously or with your contact details by using the online form or you can contact Safer Community directly. VU Counselling provides free and confidential support to VU Students. 

Safer community:
Email: [email protected]
Online formReport a concern online
Phone: +61 3 9919 5707

VU Counselling appointments:
Phone: +61 3 9919 5400

Immediate assistance

If you feel unsafe or threatened on campus, call security or the police:
VU Security+61 3 9919 6666
Police: 000

Tips: Safety planning

Whether you want to stay in your relationship or leave, you are the best judge of your own safety.

No matter what you decide, we can help you explore safety options, create a safety plan, and put in place safety measures to help reduce risk including access to aids, support or equipment.

Consider your options (below). For further information you can contact Safer Community.

Think about what you can do to keep you and your children safe, especially at times when you sense that the violence may be escalating.

  • Talk to neighbours that you know and trust; ask them to call 000 if they hear violence or abuse.
  • Contact trusted family and friends and set up a code word that you can text them in case you need them to call 000 on your behalf.
  • Plan and practice (with your children) your escape route from the house; don’t plan to flee to areas where you can become trapped. Identify areas free from weapons: the most dangerous rooms in your house are the bathroom, kitchen and garage.
  • Teach your children that their job is to stay safe, not to rescue you. Teach your children how to call 000 for the police, fire or ambulance.
  • If your children are old enough, practice a ‘safe word’ or sentence with them, let them know to get ready to leave the house if you say the safe word.
  • If you have to flee, plan how you would do so. Know the location of your nearest police station or hospital and go there if you need to.

The time just before leaving a family violence situation can be very dangerous. When it comes time to leave, make a plausible excuse to leave the house, or leave while the person using violence is not at home.

  • Only tell trusted people that you are planning to leave, and where you are planning to go.
  • Turn off location settings on your mobile phone and any other technology you are taking with you. If the person using violence had access to your technology, consider leaving these items behind.
  • Hide a bag with clothes, medication, keys and other important items that you can grab easily, or else leave the bag with someone you trust.
  • Make copies or take photos of important documents, e.g. your passport and driver’s licence, medicare card, deeds to your house, and any other important financial records.
  • If you have children take clothes for them, their medical records and medication, bottles and nappies, and some of their favourite toys.
  • If you have pets, take food and whatever equipment you need to travel, such as a lead, pet cage and pet bed.

The time after leaving a family violence situation is also very dangerous. Be vigilant during this time.

  • Consider getting an intervention order if you don’t already have one.
  • Try to change your routine. This could mean leaving home or work at different hours, shopping in different places, or driving instead of catching public transport.
  • Let key people know about your situation, e.g. your boss and other work colleagues or your children’s teachers, talk to them about what they should do if they are worried about your safety or the safety of your children.
  • Look at ways to increase security in your home, like changing your locks or installing security measures like a property alarm, security lights and CCTV.
  • Replace any technology that the person using violence set up, registered or had access to, including smartphones, tablets and Ipads, computers, smart watches etc.
  • Block the person using violence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and any other forms of social media.
  • Change the passwords of your online accounts including social media, email, banking accounts, MyGov and your e-tag account if you have a car.
  • Redirect your mail and get a post office box.

Whatever your situation, there is help

Safe Steps crisis line is open 24/7.

Family violence support services

Seek help from a professional support service, such as: