Domestic violence rates rising in regional WA

The number of domestic violence incidents in regional WA continues to grow at an alarming rate seeing a 60 per cent increase over the past decade.

WA Police statistics show incidents of family-related domestic violence in regional WA have grown from 3,576 in 2010-11 to 8,826 in 2018-19.

"Waratah is committed to providing support as soon as possible when requested however currently both the adult and children's services carry a wait list," she said.

"As you can appreciate it takes great courage to make contact to seek counselling and so having to wait for an appointment can be distressing.

"It's very disappointing to have a wait list for the children's services as the impacts of trauma affect every aspect of a child's life including their health, education and peer relationships so the sooner we can work with children the better.

"Waratah relies on government funding which unfortunately has not increased in real terms to meet demand."

In the last financial year, Waratah filled 1,594 appointments for women's family domestic violence counselling, a 9.5 per cent increase from the previous financial year.

For the third year in a row the state government have launched its 16 Days in WA to Stop Violence Against Women campaign.

Ms Chapman said campaigns that raised awareness about family and domestic violence, that supported communities to take action to end it and encouraged families and individuals affected, including people who choose to use violence and intimidation, to seek support were welcome.

"It should be noted that campaigns trigger an increase in demand and support services can struggle to meet that demand. Ideally, campaigns should come with an increase in funding for response services," she said.

Communicare chief executive officer Melissa Perry said in the last five years, Tuart House in Busselton had seen a significant increase in women and children seeking help from their service.

In 2018-19, Tuart House accommodated 56 women and their 56 children to ensure they had safe housing and received support to achieve sustainable positive outcomes to plan for their future.

"The increase is being seen in both our crisis accommodation service and our Partnerships for Family Safety program," she said.

"The program is a support service for women affected by violence or abuse by an intimate partner or family member engaged in one of our men's behavior change programs.

Our current challenge is trying to meet demand for our support services; as soon as crisis accommodation becomes available, we are very quickly filling the vacancy.

Communicare chief executive officer Melissa Perry

"Our current challenge is trying to meet demand for our support services; as soon as crisis accommodation becomes available, we are very quickly filling the vacancy.

"The women and children we are now supporting are also presenting with additional complexities, requiring us to provide referrals to specialist services including mental health and alcohol and other drug supports.

"One of the major differences we've documented from five years ago is the increasing number of young women working with the Department of Communities (Child Protection and Family Support) who are needing the support of our service, along with their young children."

Ms Perry said there was a definite need for more services for victims of family and domestic violence within the South-West.

"This includes crisis accommodation support as well as medium and longer-term housing," she said.

"Particularly with the increasing number of women and children choosing to remain in the South West upon completion of their time with Communicare Tuart House.

"Additionally, with families joining our services with acute complex needs, we are needing to make referrals to specialist services such as family domestic violence counselling, mental health support services, and alcohol and other drug counselling."

Relationships Australia WA coordinator of family domestic violence services in Bunbury and Busselton Polly Crooke said they were acutely aware of the disparity between what victims could access in the metro area and what was available in the South-West.

"On a daily basis we receive requests for specialised family domestic violence counselling for women and their children," she said.

"In addition we also receive many requests from government and non-government services that we are working in collaboration with, such as Child Protection, Family Court, WA Police, to provide a specialist family domestic service.

"With dedicated funding we would have the capacity to comprehensively address the significant impact of family domestic violence in the region."

Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence minister Simone McGurk said the uncomfortable truth was that women were much more likely than men to experience violence in their own home at the hand of someone they knew.

"A recent report, titled Young Country Women's Perceptions of Intimate Partner Violence, found that early signs were not being recognised by women living in country areas, so they were not leaving a relationship before it escalated," she said.

"Another concerning - but perhaps not surprising - finding of the University of SA report suggested country women were often apprehensive about seeking professional support because of the tight-knit communities they lived in," she said.

Another concerning - but perhaps not surprising - finding of the University of SA report suggested country women were often apprehensive about seeking professional support because of the tight-knit communities they lived in.

Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk

"This year's campaign encourages every Western Australian to speak out to stop violence against women.

"You can make a difference by talking to family, friends and colleagues about respectful relationships, or by wearing orange and hosting a 16 Days in WA event to raise awareness."

South West MLC Adele Farina threw her support behind the campaign saying violence against women in all forms was completely unacceptable.

"Which is why it is so important for all of us to speak out against it and work towards a better future, together," she said.

"Despite the hard work of our governmental agencies, refuges and not-for-profit organisations, WA recorded the largest number of family and domestic violence related homicide offences in 2018 with 37 lives lost - 37 too many.

"I would encourage the South West community to wear orange throughout the 16 day campaign, which starts on November 25 - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and runs until December 10 - Human Rights Day."

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam attended the campaign launch at Optus Stadium on Monday saying it was an important initiative putting the spotlight on this whole of community concern.

"Whether it's in the workplace, in the home or in sport or the community we all have a role in speaking out against violence or discrimination against women in the community," she said.

"One in six women are likely to experience some form of violence in their life which is completely unacceptable.

"We are fortunate to have our own local White Ribbon group supported by South West Counselling, The People Place and other local agency advocates.

"A Busselton event is also planned for December 10 as part of the 16 days of activism against gender based violence, which I look forward to supporting.

"The reality is one in six women and one in nine men experience physical or sexual abuse before the age of 15 years."

If someone you know needs help with a violent partner or family member, speak out. And if you are experiencing family or domestic violence, the following services can assist:

  • 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732
  • Crisis Care Helpline: 1800 199 008
  • Women's Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 007 339
  • Men's Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 000 599


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