The State of Australian Domestic Violence Websites

Published: Jul 31, 2016 1:46 PM

A few days ago, I got a message on Facebook from a good friend, asking me what I thought of an informational website for people needing help when a Domestic Violence situation occurs.

I was quite taken a back and had to reread several times, the information provided for Males, that may be looking for help who may be victims of Domestic Violence.

The below screen shot was taken from Department for Child Protection and Family Support on 29th July 2016:

Can you see what's wrong with the information they are providing?

This service provides counselling for men who are concerned about their violent and abusive behaviours.

Now, I was hoping that it was just a bit of narrow mindedness of whoever came up with the text for the above site in this instance, but no, it gets worse.

After a little research (page 1 of searching using the keywords "domestic violence australia" in Google), I found DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STATISTICS . First result in Google BTW.

Strange that there are no males in the photo. Are these females so scared of males that they could not have any representation?

Are these people serious?

Have they not had reports of Males that have been victims?

I know I've heard stories where Males have been on the receiving end of violence, whether that be from their Male or Female partners, both or one of their Parents or Carer's, Male or Female Friends or other Relative's.

In this day and age, we seriously need to stop continuing with the narrative that it's mostly Males that commit violence toward Females or Children.

I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but that it happens across the whole spectrum of our Species, regardless of Gender, orientation or Age.

We need to work together to make everyone aware that if they feel they are being abused or are victim's of domestic violence that they can get help without feeling like they are being abused further because of their gender. I've heard a lot of instances where a Male has called one of these helplines only to be asked if they are a "Man or Mouse" (in fact I've even heard that police use that term), or asked when they call for help "Have you hit someone?", as the primary question and attitude, because of their gender.

Here's some other examples you can visit:

    • This site is actually well designed, but again supports that narrative that Men are the Abuser's, it would be fairer that they have sections for both Men and Women, or at least indicate and link to another site where Men can get help.
    • While I like the layout of this site, and it is really well built and easy to use, the particular content on this page disturbs me, as it ostrices Males, with the intention to give the reader the impression that penetration has to occur. How come then, people can report work mates for sexual harrassement by saying sexual things, or even just touching someone even in a non-sexual way.
    • This last site, actually has it right, with a fair objective view on the overall subject. The site however uses SquareSpace, which isn't great for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), but it is at least up to date technology

Now onto my Analytical and Code Curiosity, and I was appalled at what I found.

Given that the Australian Government continually states that they change, adapt, and keep up to date with technology, they certainly don't when compared to web technologies when compared to other countries.

The first site, after which my curiosity was piqued after my friend mentioned that the director of DCP (Department of Child Protection) replied in writing when questioned, and I quote "The language and service approach offered by the hotlines are in line with contemporary research and best practice".

I have heard from at least one male domestic abuse survivor, that when he was in need of using their hotline service, the first question he was asked was "have you hit anyone?" No offer of help, or a sympathetic ear. Just an accusing question.

Is it any wonder we hear about stories of phone operators being abused, when they ask things like this, before even listening to why the caller is calling in the first place.

If they are referring to how the website is built, they either need to look up what best practices are themselves, or hire a new Web Developer that does follow Best Practices.

We no longer use Tables for site Layouts, that went out before the year 2000, it's 2016.

Best Practices, is to use Semantic Markup for site Layout.

Best Practices, is to not use inline styles, but rather an external stylesheet.

Best Practices, is to not use inline, page blocking Javascript.

We don't use HTML4.01 Transitional anymore, but rather most sites have moved onto HTML5.

We now use Microformats, and Schema, and JSON-LD to help google learn what our content is about so it can index it accordingly.

We don't use inline styles in tags anymore.

Inconsistent use of SSL, one .gov site will use it, and another doesn't. We can get SSL Certificate's for free now from services like Let's Encrypt, there's no reason not to use one now.

Mobile Device Responsiveness and Friendliness was inconsistent across many of the Government Sites, which can considerably hinder assistance to those in need of help, considering a lot of people are using Mobile Devices, and the high possibility that someone needing help may be doing so from a Mobile Device if they need assistance urgently.

That's just a run down of some of the bad practices found on the first site, but also on a lot of other Government Websites I looked at. Which brings me to my next point.

There is no consistency between any of the different departments or states. Even with the Domain Names. For e.g., if I want to look up information in several states, it would be much more user friendly if I can just change the state in the domain to change state. I wouldn't expect the folder hierarchy to be the same, as information topics could be different between the states. But if I wanted to go to the home page, like for Western Australia, then to go to the dcp home page for New South Wales I could use, makes much more sense.

Why on earth, are most .gov sites NOT using SSL Certificates, do they not care about the security of their site visitor's, not to mention the protection it affords them. And those that do, it works intermittently, which might say something about their SSL Provider.

There is no good reason why Australian Government Websites today have to be in the inconsistent state they are, or retain and provide out of date information or thinking.

The main point of this article, is to try and shed some light on the issue that the standard narrative put out is that Men are most likely to be the abuser, and not the Victim. This has to stop. Violence towards anyone, is everyone's problem, which is up to everyone to be aware of and allow Males that are Victims not be afraid of speaking up, or being ostracised for doing so.

If you are in a position where you feel you need help I would suggest getting in contact with One In Three as this service seems to be more balanced in their thinking.