ONE in five offences recorded across the state in a 12-month period were family violence-related, new Crime Statistics Agency data shows.
Despite overall decreases in criminal offences, family violence-related offences increased by 11.3 per cent in the year to March 2021.
The increase was particularly driven by breaches of family violence orders, up 18.4 per cent, and family violence-related common assaults, up 5.9 per cent.
A complete breakdown can be found here.
The trend was similar in central Victoria, with the number of family violence order breaches increasing across Greater Bendigo, Mount Alexander, the Macedon Ranges and Loddon municipalities.
Bendigo's Centre for Non-Violence programs and services executive manager Yvette Jaczina said it was important breaches were taken seriously.
She said Victoria Police launched Operation Ribbon in April last year to focus on family violence, during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
"We know Victoria Police knocked on doors and found perpetrators breaching intervention orders, and we acknowledge their efforts to actively check in on those at high risk of family violence," she said.
"This is a positive outcome where the service system is holding perpetrators to account.
"If breaches are taken seriously, it increases a woman's confidence in reporting to police and that the system will support her.
"We know that when people start to breach orders, it indicates high risk for women.
"Non-compliance with legal orders is a significant risk factor, so it's positive that police are responding and taking action to keep women and children safe."
Family violence order breaches were in the top five principal offences for Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Gannawarra and Buloke shires for the year to March 2021.
In Greater Bendigo, family violence incidents rose by 17 per cent to a total of 2359 in the 12-month period.
The largest increase was seen in the Loddon Shire where incidents rose by 35.7 per cent.
There was a decline in family violence in the Mount Alexander, Central Goldfields, Gannawarra and Campaspe municipalities.
Ms Jaczina said crime statistics were not necessarily indicative of a reduction in family violence.
"We know family and domestic violence is under-reported," she said.
"This drop is potentially indicative of the capacity for women to reach out for support, particularly as a result of COVID-19."
Ms Jaczina said these statistics highlighted the need for ongoing funding for both crisis and long-term case management for women and children accessing family violence response services.
"The recent state and federal budgets did little to address capacity to frontline services, and there appears to be little investment in prevention or therapeutic programs," she said.
"We are calling for long-term funding, tailored solutions for rural and regional areas, for all levels of government to listen to the voices of experts about where resources should be prioritised and boosted, and an end to short term funding and pilot projects that are based on political cycles rather than local need.
Ms Jaczina also called for greater investment in secure and affordable housing options for women and children.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, help is available:
- Safe Steps, Victoria's 24-hour family violence response hotline - 1800 015 188
- 1800 RESPECT, the 24-hour national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service - 1800 737 732
- No To Violence's Men's Referral Service, for men concerned about their use of violence - 1300 766 491
- The Centre Against Sexual Assault Central Victoria, available from 9am - 5pm on weekdays, on 5441 0430, and the Sexual Assault Crisis Line at all other times on 1800 806 292.
- The Orange Door in Loddon, available from 9am - 5pm weekdays - 1800 512 359
- The Centre for Non-Violence, for people who live in the Loddon region, on 1800 884 292.
In an emergency, phone 000.
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