Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence on the rise

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ali­cia Perera

Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence re­ports are con­tin­u­ing to es­ca­late in the Pil­bara after al­ready dou­bling in the last fi­nan­cial year, with an av­er­age of about 10 in­ci­dents a day re­ported to vic­tim sup­port ser­vices last month.

The Pil­bara Fam­ily Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Re­sponse Team re­ceived about 300 re­ports of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in­ci­dents across the re­gion in Jan­uary, and 252 in each of the two pre­ced­ing months.

The Jan­uary 2017 fig­ure is a jump of 100 on the same time last year and equates to half the num­ber of re­ports made to the ser­vice in the en­tire 2014-15 fi­nan­cial year, fit­ting into a sus­tained up­ward trend in the past few years.

Pil­bara Com­mu­nity Le­gal Ser­vice do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ad­vo­cacy and vic­tim sup­port of­fi­cer Mel Swiatek said the num­ber of re­ported do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cases was “quite con­sis­tently get­ting higher”, though that could be be­cause of bet­ter re­port­ing as well as higher num­bers.

She said al­co­hol, drugs, es­pe­cially metham­phetamine, and fi­nan­cial hard­ship were prom­i­nent in most Pil­bara cases.

“I’d say at least 90 per cent of the re­ports I read have al­co­hol in­volved,” she said. “So a huge num­ber will state that one or both par­ties are in­tox­i­cated.”

Pil­bara safe house man­agers said the num­ber of fam­i­lies seek­ing help over the Christ­mas pe­riod had been high, with PCLS also dig­ging into the bud­get to find emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion for vic­tims.

Munga Tharndu Maya Roe­bourne Women’s Refuge team leader Sonya Keyser said more women were seek­ing help, but they were of­ten full and had to turn them away.

Nin­tirri Fam­ily Vi­o­lence and Preven­tion Ser­vice co-or­di­na­tor Dawn Thomp­son said the Pil­bara needed more early in­ter­ven­tion

ser­vices to pre­vent peo­ple reach­ing the emer­gency stage of safe hous­ing.

The De­part­ment of Child Pro­tec­tion and Fam­ily Sup­port di­rec­tor-gen­eral Emma White said they pro­vided an­nual fund­ing of about $2.86 mil­lion to­wards ser­vices in the Pil­bara in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, coun­selling and ad­vo­cacy ser­vices and out­reach pro­grams.

Ms White also said an in­crease in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence re­ports could be seen in a pos­i­tive light in show­ing vic­tims were trust­ing au­thor­i­ties to as­sist them.

“Any in­crease in re­ported cases may be in­ter­preted as an es­ca­la­tion of fam­ily ... vi­o­lence; how­ever the in­crease can be at­trib­uted to the grow­ing pub­lic aware­ness that fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is un­ac­cept­able ... vic­tims are also be­com­ing more con­fi­dent in re­port­ing in­ci­dents,” she said.

Pil­bara dis­trict po­lice Act­ing Su­per­in­ten­dent Ricky Chad­wick said Pil­bara po­lice recog­nised do­mes­tic vi­o­lence was a “sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem” in the re­gion.

He said it was a dif­fi­cult field for po­lice and hu­man ser­vices be­cause “the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is not the sil­ver bul­let”, and so­lu­tions in­clud­ing a greater fo­cus on per­pe­tra­tor re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion were re­quired.

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