The rate of family violence incidents attended by police has reached a five-year low in parts of central Victoria, including Greater Bendigo, but one support organisation has seen a significant rise in demand for its services.
New data released by the Crime Statistics Agency shows the rate of family incidents in City of Greater Bendigo in the year to June 2018 was 1265.6 incidents per 100,000 people, the lowest recorded by police since at least 2012-13.
Mount Alexander and Macedon Ranges shires also saw their lowest rates of incidents in five years.
But the Centre for Non-Violence’s Robyn Trainor said the organisation was experiencing an increase in referrals, both from individuals themselves and from other services.
“Our demand has not decreased – in fact, it’s increased significantly,” Ms Trainor said.
She said there was greater engagement across all the organisation’s services, including those in Echuca, Macedon Ranges and Central Goldfields.
Most people affected by family violence also did not report it to police, she said, and there was greater visibility of services working in the family violence sphere.
But Ms Trainor said more referrals came following a change in police protocols, and hoped this meant those affected by family violence had more trust in the response they would receive.
However, there was still a lot of support to excuse or minimise violence in the community, she said, making it important to name such violence for what it was.
A recent survey conducted by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety found one in five Australians believed “a lot of what is called domestic violence is really a normal reaction to day-to-day stress and frustration”, but Ms Trainor said no violence was acceptable.
Ms Trainor said family violence was about a power imbalance, and a perpetrator using tactics that made the victim less autonomous.
“While women will resist violence, they’ll modify their behaviour in response to that constant level of threat or fear, as a protective measure,” she said.
Ms Trainor said it was important there was a whole-of-system response to family violence and the organisation was working hard to ensure a variety of services were able to identify family violence, and make assessments and referrals.
It was also important the focus was on both victim-survivors and perpetrators, Ms Trainor said, by looking at the safety of those affected, and ensuring supports were put in place and accountability held to ensure the violence did not recur.
The Crime Statistics Agency figures showed three times as many females were victims of family violence incidents as males, while males were three times more often the alleged perpetrator.
If you or someone you know is affected by family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In central Victoria, the Centre for Non-Violence can be reached on 5430 3000 or online at www.cnv.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.