Uniting Church vows to stamp out domestic violence

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: 22 per cent of domestic abusers are churchgoers according to recent media reports. Picture: Phillip Biggs
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: 22 per cent of domestic abusers are churchgoers according to recent media reports. Picture: Phillip Biggs

The Uniting Church has vowed to strengthen its actions against domestic violence.

The Tasmania and Victoria combined branch voted this week to “acknowledge and lament with sorrow and humility" that Christian communities had “sometimes failed to acknowledge” domestic abuse.

Tasmanian Uniting Church moderator Reverend Sharon Hollis said that the church will be participating in 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in November.

The United Nations-hosted campaign provides an avenue for communities to raise awareness about domestic violence around the world.

However, Ms Hollis also said the church did not have plans to implement specific family violence counselling programs.

“As a part of the campaign we’ll be putting together some resources for congregations, in particular, to use in their Sunday worship and other places,” Ms Hollis said.

“We’re looking to develop community and conversation resources that will help people focus on the program.

“We’ll be developing our own resources and drawing on some written in other parts of the world.”

The Anglican Diocese of Tasmania made domestic violence resources and information available to clergy and parishioners in 2016.

“The Bible is wholly against violence and oppression in any relationship,” Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, Dr Richard Condie said.

“I encourage my clergy to continue to make use of the available resources and speak openly about family violence and domestic abuse in their church communities.”

The Catholic Church, meanwhile, now provide early intervention and support services to people suffering from domestic abuse via the government-funded Safe Choices program.

The Uniting Church’s approved motion comes after August media reports that suggested domestic violence was systemically overlooked in all Australian Christian denominations. 

The report also stated that 22 per cent of all domestic abusers were churchgoers.

White Ribbon Australia said that religious groups have a duty to protect victims of domestic violence.

“White Ribbon has zero tolerance for violence of any kind. It doesn’t matter what part of the community or organisation you are from, perpetrators of domestic violence must be held to account.”

Ms Hollis denies that domestic violence is a problem endemic to the Uniting Church in Tasmania. 

“I’m confident that Tasmanian Uniting Church ministers speak about the range of issues involved in domestic violence and give sermons on domestic violence.”

  • For domestic violence support call SHE on 0428 162 216.