Family violence reports fall in Bendigo, statistics show, but contacts with support services increase

The rate of family violence-related incidents reported to police in the Bendigo area has dropped in the past year, but this does not necessarily reflect a reduction in family violence across the community.

Crime Statistics Agency figures show the rate of family incidents in Greater Bendigo in the 12 months to June 30 fell by almost 11 per cent from the previous year, the lowest rate in at least five years.

Campaspe, Loddon and Macedon Ranges shires also saw decreased rates of family incidents.

But Centre for Non-Violence chief executive officer Margaret Augerinos said this had not been reflected in the number of people seeking support from the organisation, which had seen an increase.

Ms Augerinos said this suggested fewer people were reporting incidents to police, and were instead making specialised services their first point of contact, a result of a greater awareness of the issue within the community.

The Centre for Non-Violence’s strengthened presence across the region was another factor that might have contributed to the trend, she said.

Buloke, Gannawarra, Central Goldfields and Mount Alexander shires all saw reports of family violence rise.

The most dramatic increase was in Buloke, where the rate of family incidents grew by more than 16.6 per cent.

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There has been an upwards trend in number of family incidents over the past five years in Buloke and Central Goldfields shires.

Ms Augerinos said in smaller areas such as these, high rates reports were sometimes the result of repeated incidents involving the same people, and did not necessarily relate to the number of individual households experience family violence.

Work to improve public awareness of family violence in such communities as the Central Goldfields might have also contributed, she said.

Rates of family incidents remain highest in the region in Central Goldfields, while Macedon Ranges has the lowest rate.

Across Victoria as a whole, there was a 3.3 per cent drop in the rate of family violence reports, while the previous year, the rate of family incidents grew by more than 7 per cent.

Family incidents in Victoria peaked in December, January and November respectively, consistent with trends seen in previous years.

Three-quarters of those affected in family incidents were female, while males made up 76 per cent of ‘other parties’.

If you or someone you know is affected by family violence, call the Centre for Non-Violence on 1800 884 038 or 5430 3000. Bendigo police can be reached on 5448 1300. In an emergency, call 000.