Bid to fight fam­ily vi­o­lence

Kalgoorlie Miner - - FRONT PAGE - Ja­son Men­nell

The Gold­fields is look­ing at ways of com­bat­ing its do­mes­tic vi­o­lence rates af­ter sta­tis­tics re­vealed a daily av­er­age of more than five in­ci­dents were re­ported in the past year, in­clud­ing the death of two women.

A four-day work­shop, fin­ish­ing to­day, aims to shape the way agen­cies and child-pro­tec­tion work­ers tackle the scourge of fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in the re­gion.

De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties dis­trict di­rec­tor Am­ber Fabry said she re­ceived sta­tis­tics from WA Po­lice that showed there were more than 2000 re­ports of fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in the Gold­fields in the past 12 months.

Ms Fabry said the sta­tis­tics were not good enough and she hoped the work­shop would im­pact how the “sys­tem re­sponds to fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence”.

“I think com­mu­nity-wide there is a sim­ple per­cep­tion, ‘Why doesn’t she just leave him?’ But re­search tells us the high­est risk of death is af­ter sepa­ra­tion,” she said. “The sys­tem is built around sup­port­ing women to leave but that puts them at more risk so we need to look at how we’re re­spond­ing to the whole sit­u­a­tion of fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

“This model looks very care­fully at how we can have fam­i­lies safe and to­gether and how we can ac­tu­ally in­ter­vene with the per­pe­tra­tor to change the vi­o­lence.”

Hosted by the De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties and de­liv­ered by Stop­ping Fam­ily Vi­o­lence, the work­shop has in­volved 37 peo­ple rang­ing from agency heads to child-pro­tec­tion staff from across the Gold­fields.

The work­shop aims to shake-up the way in­ci­dents are re­sponded to by light­en­ing the bur­den suf­fered by vic­tims and mak­ing per­pe­tra­tors more ac­count­able.

Stake­hold­ers have been equipped with tools to en­gage bet­ter with per­pe­tra­tors and strengthen prose­cu­tion cases through im­proved record­ing of fam­ily his­tory and in­ci­dents.

Stop­ping Fam­ily Vi­o­lence chief ex­ec­u­tive Damian Green said there were an in­cred­i­bly di­verse set of ser­vices work­ing in the Gold­fields and im­proved syn­chronic­ity would help prose­cu­tion cases.

“It’s re­ally about sys­tem­at­i­cally un­der­stand­ing what is hap­pen­ing in a fam­ily and record­ing it re­ally well so the sys­tems that are work­ing at keep­ing the vic­tim safe and the per­pe­tra­tor ac­count­able have the in­for­ma­tion they need (to

make) bet­ter de­ci­sions,” he said. “This sys­tem knows a lot but it is about how we come to­gether so we have a com­mon lan­guage, we are record­ing things in the same way, we are look­ing for the same things and then we are feed­ing that in­for­ma­tion into the courts, into the po­lice and into the jus­tice sys­tem.

“That way mag­is­trates and ju­di­cial of­fi­cers are clear . . . in terms of what harm a per­pe­tra­tor is caus­ing in a fam­ily func­tion.”

“When they have that in­for­ma­tion, the hope and the ev­i­dence so far shows us they make bet­ter de­ci­sions be­cause bet­ter in­for­ma­tion equals bet­ter de­ci­sions.”

Ms Fabry said there was too much em­pha­sis on ex­pect­ing vic­tims to re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately when abusers were to blame.

“Often we set safety plans that are re­ally ask­ing the woman to be re­spon­si­ble for the safety in the home, which doesn’t make sense,” she said.

“The per­pe­tra­tor might sep­a­rate from one fam­ily, but they could re-part­ner and be vi­o­lent to­wards an­other fam­ily.”

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