Blight of vi­o­lence

LAW CATCH­ING UP WITH FAM­ILY HELL

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Jess War­riner

THOU­SANDS of cases of fam­ily vi­o­lence are in the spot­light as a new Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Bill moves one step closer to be­com­ing law.

The Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Orders (Na­tional Recog­ni­tion) Bill has just passed the Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly and will en­able WA to par­tic­i­pate in a na­tional scheme to recog­nise do­mes­tic vi­o­lence re­strain­ing orders across the coun­try, no mat­ter what state or ter­ri­tory they have been taken out in.

Po­lice fig­ures show that in 201516, more than 53,000 cases of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence were re­ported in WA, and White Ribbon sta­tis­tics es­ti­mate that one woman is killed every week by a cur­rent or for­mer part­ner.

White Ribbon also es­ti­mate that one in four chil­dren are ex­posed to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Dur­ing de­bate on the Bill, Bel­mont MLA Cassie Rowe spoke about the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence on young peo­ple.

“When I went around and spoke to some of the schools, I was re­ally hor­ri­fied to hear prin­ci­pals say to me that in some in­ci­dents, chil­dren are pre­sent­ing to school with post-trau­matic stress syn­drome symp­toms and high lev­els of anxiety be­cause of what they’re see­ing in the home,” Ms Rowe said.

Ms Rowe told of a lo­cal boy she saw mere months ago break­ing down in the sick bay of his school.

“I said to the prin­ci­pal, I’m ask­ing as a mum, ‘Is that boy OK?’

“He said he was in there every day cry­ing be­cause of what he sees at home, and they just let him take a mo­ment, get him­self to­gether, when he’s ready he goes to class. Imag­ine how dif­fi­cult it is for that child to learn when they have to spend half the morn­ing in the sick bay to get them­selves to­gether.”

Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and di­rec­tor of ther­a­peu­tic ser­vices at the Ge­orge Jones Child Ad­vo­cacy Centre Amanda Pa­ton said while leg­is­la­tion should go fur­ther, the new Bill was a step in the right di­rec­tion.

“We’ve had cases where this type of scheme would work, (where some­one has) had re­strain­ing orders in other states or ter­ri­to­ries, come over to WA and they’ve not held, or they thought the re­strain­ing or­der ap­plied when it didn’t,” Ms Pa­ton said.

“A lot of fam­i­lies that we’ve worked with are a bit dis­heart­ened by the sys­tem.

“If they’ve found out they have to ap­ply all over again, it’s al­most like be­ing re-trau­ma­tised be­cause you have to go through it all over again.

“For a lot of fam­i­lies, it’s a big enough step to ac­tu­ally ac­knowl­edge yes, my part­ner is hurt­ing us, he’s hurt­ing me, he’s hurt­ing the fam­ily.”

The Ge­orge Jones Child Ad­vo­cacy Centre in Ar­madale is run by Park­erville Chil­dren and Youth Care. It ser­vices fam­i­lies fac­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in the south­east metro cor­ri­dor.

Ms Pa­ton said one of the big­gest things peo­ple could do to com­bat fam­ily vi­o­lence was ac­knowl­edge it.

“I think a lot of peo­ple... want to stick their heads in the sand, they want to think it hap­pens over there, that it couldn’t pos­si­bly be hap­pen­ing in their neigh­bour­hood,” she said.

“Even in the most af­flu­ent, high-pro­file and pretty neigh­bour­hoods you can find, they all have child abuse and fam­ily vi­o­lence lurk­ing be­hind the scenes. You can’t change it un­til you ac­knowl­edge it’s an issue we all need to deal with.”

Ms Rowe said peo­ple needed to hear the per­sonal sto­ries be­hind the sta­tis­tics.

“At the end of the day, this is mur­der. This is ter­ror­ism in the home,” she said.

“These are real-life women and chil­dren ex­pe­ri­enc­ing hor­rors.”

Ms Rowe said the State Gov­ern­ment was plan­ning a new metropoli­tan refuge and new re­gional refuge, with on­estop hubs for women to seek help when fac­ing fam­ily vi­o­lence.

Pre­ven­tion of Fam­ily and Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Min­is­ter Si­mone McGurk said the new Bill’s in­tro­duc­tion was sym­bolic of the pri­or­ity the State Gov­ern­ment was giv­ing to ad­dress­ing fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in WA.

The na­tional do­mes­tic vi­o­lence re­strain­ing or­der recog­ni­tion scheme is due to be­gin on Novem­ber 25 and will pro­vide in­stant le­gal pro­tec­tion across state and ter­ri­tory bound­aries.

Bel­mont MLA Cassie Rowe.

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