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Effecting change over the years
June 19, 2021
When it comes to driving change and policy, few issues have been as complex and critical to Eva Perez over her 20 years in the public sector than helping to improve police responses to family violence, sexual offences, and child abuse.
Today Eva is the current Director of Strategy, Policy and Reform within the Family Violence Command of Victoria Police, a department established in 2015.
“It is always challenging and at the same time motivating,” Eva said.
She joined the Emerge board in June 2020, keen to contribute to an organisation involved in providing critical services to women and children experiencing family violence, having worked on the policy and system reform side of family violence.
She brings with her a wealth of experience as well as a background in service improvements and operations. Before working for Victoria Police, Eva was a Business and Government management consultant with Ernst & Young NZ and a Policy and Research Officer with the NZ Department of Internal Affairs, responsible for a diverse array of portfolios including community development, citizenship, local government, censorship, gambling and births, deaths and marriages.
“It has been a diverse career where I am always learning,” Eva said.
The lockdown last year certainly has tested her and her team not least in terms of developing new ways new ways of providing information and access to support to those experiencing family violence.
“Police, like most other services, have trialled different approaches, particularly involving remote service delivery, which may prove worth retaining in the long term,” she said.
The Royal Commission and its 227 recommendations have prompted many new family violence initiatives. This includes investment in specialist roles. Within Victoria Police, this has resulted in complex and high-risk cases now being managed by the specialist Family Violence Investigation Units, ongoing police training being developed and delivered by a Centre for Family Violence and Family Violence Training Officers across the state, and at court the presence of Family Violence Court Liaison Officer and dedicated police lawyers for family violence matters.
“What the Royal Commission did was to raise general community awareness of family violence in its many forms and to involve a broad range of services in preventing and responding to family violence. This has led to more support for survivors, better use of risk assessment and improved training,” Eva said.
Nevertheless, there is some way to go as community attitudes studies show that young people, and many others in the community, still don’t recognise all the forms of harmful behaviour that constitute family violence.
Eva says the ongoing campaigns by Respect Victoria and others to raise awareness of the different forms of family violence are essential, as is the early intervention with children and young people about respectful relationships
“Sadly, the experiences of those who have suffered family violence, including who have been murdered by their partners, also highlights the indicators, risks and behaviours of family violence,” she said.
Which is why her team’s priorities include supporting children experiencing family violence, encouraging reporting by victims from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and increasing awareness of and responses to technology-enabled offending.
“There is still so much work to do which makes the job stimulating,” Eva said.