Police share key to reducing Whitsundays domestic violence
WITH Proserpine police attending multiple call-outs for domestic violence incidents every week, police say culture and community attitudes need to change for the abuse to be eradicated.
On average, police in Proserpine attend four calls for service to domestic violence incidents a week with call-outs varying from verbal arguments to intimidation and physical violence.
Proserpine Police Sergeant Mark Flynn said he had not noticed any trends in the Proserpine area other than an increased willingness for victims to report domestic violence.
He attributed this to improvements in victim support services and the referral process, which also extends to children.
Sgt Flynn also said there had been big changes to domestic violence legislation since 2015 with the introduction of the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme.
The scheme means a domestic violence order issued in one jurisdiction can now be automatically recognised and enforced across Australia.
However, while Sgt Flynn said the support of the community and a change of attitude would be vital in reducing rates of domestic violence.
"Domestic violence cannot and will not be tolerated in our community," he said.
"It begins with the community and, in particular, men taking a stand against domestic violence.
"Police will continue to enforce legislation and provide protection for victims of domestic violence, but without the support of the community and a change in the culture and attitude of acceptance, the goal of eradicating domestic violence from our community is far more difficult to achieve."
The stigma and social attitudes surrounding domestic violence were also identified as a barrier in accessing support by counsellor with Whitsunday Counselling and Support Andrea Bradley.
Ms Bradley supports victims of domestic violence at court proceedings when they are lodging a domestic violence order.
After working in the region for just over a year, Ms Bradley said she observed a steady number of DVO applications.
However, she said the repercussions of the court process were a potential barrier for victims of domestic violence in seeking legal action.
"Some people are worried about going to court and putting an order out against someone because they are afraid that it will escalate their situation," Ms Bradley said.
"It's often not the court process itself, it's what will happen after."
This included a fear of violence after the DVO was lodged as well as a fear of approaching the authorities if the DVO was breached.
It was this fear, as well as a misunderstanding of what domestic violence is, that Ms Bradley recognised as a cause for the potentially likely large gap in the number of people experiencing domestic violence and those taking out domestic violence orders.
"There's probably heaps of (people) out there that don't even know this is here, that they can put a domestic violence order on, or they don't see it as (domestic violence) because most people think it's just physical," she said.
"They don't understand that emotional abuse or swearing and screaming or yelling at someone is domestic violence.
"We all have our basic arguments with a partner or someone else, that's quite normal, but if it's consistent and ongoing and that's all you experience and you're scared every day and walk on eggshells every day you need to start thinking 'this is not OK, this is not right'."