Bid to fight family violence
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.”