White Ribbon now more vital than ever

November 24, 2017

Kerry Howlett, James Egan of Billabong Ranch and Eleanor Auditori all supporting White Ribbon

POLICE are being swamped with family violence reports, responding to an average of 11 incidents a week across Campaspe Shire.

According to Crime Statistics Agency figures, police attended 565 family violence incidents across the shire in the past financial year.

And although it has fallen 18 per cent from the year before, it is a 45 per cent jump in four years.

And it is going to get worse as we head into the Christmas holidays.

Campaspe police Inspector Geoff Owen said in the past three years, there had been a consistent decrease in family violence incidents reported in May, coinciding with the colder months, followed by a steady increase in November, December and January.

‘‘The number of incidents of family violence increase over December and January coinciding with the holiday season with more people outside enjoying the hotter weather and ensuing consumption of alcohol,’’ he said.

Alarmingly, the number of women who applied for a family violence intervention order in Campaspe Shire has almost doubled in two years.

In the 2014-15 financial year, 59 orders where females were the affected family member were applied for, compared to 111 in 2016-17.

Centre for Non-Violence (CNV) client services general manager Yvette Jaczina said it had provided non-legal court support to 175 women in the shire this year and crisis response and/or case management on 210 occasions.

‘‘Sometimes this may be women having more than one support period, for example if their circumstances change,’’ she said.

Ms Jaczina said in 2015 and 2016, the number of women the centre had supported had been reasonably steady.

‘‘There has been some growth in numbers of women we are supporting in 2017 which we would attribute to the expanded CNV service in Campaspe as of May 2017,’’ she said. ‘‘We are pleased to be more accessible to women and to have a full-time service.’’

Ms Jaczina said Christmas was traditionally a busier time for police responding to family violence incidents.

‘‘Christmas can be a stressful time for many community members,’’ she said.

‘‘For families it can be a time for rising tensions and holidays can highlight issues such as disputes over child contact, financial issues and other issues.

‘‘It is important to note that many of these incidents generally indicate an ongoing pattern of coercive control and abuse towards a woman and her children which can be exacerbated by these other contributing, but not causal factors.’’

Today is White Ribbon Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Again Women, which Ms Jaczina said was an opportunity to raise awareness about family violence and its causes and to consider the role men and women played in challenging the conditions and beliefs that could contribute to family violence.

‘‘It is important for the community to take action by challenging condoning of violence against women and challenging gender stereotypes and roles,’’ she said. ‘‘Some ways of taking action include not blaming victims of violence, don’t ask ‘why doesn’t she leave?’ ask ‘why is he violent’?

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