Experts meet as family violence increases at alarming rate

IN THE face of alarming increases in domestic and family violence incidents in the region, police and associated groups have come together in a bid to reduce the rate.

Gladstone Police Domestic and Family Violence co-ordinator Vicki Dredge said the forum held in Rockhampton last week had been an extremely positive step in targeting domestic and family violence offending.

"We're really looking at that collaborative approach, at how we can all help to fix this," she said.

"It's all about how we can intervene and early intervention."

Seventeen groups from government and non-government agencies, including Capricornia District police, attended the Rockhampton forum, where the region's increases in DFV incidents, particularly high over the past five years, were discussed.

Capricornia District has experienced an 85% increase in breaches of domestic violence orders and an 89% increase in calls for service to police (000 calls) for domestic violence issues over the past five years.

The statistics were provided by Rockhampton Police Inspector Virginia Nelson.

DFV doesn't discriminate; it doesn't matter what your background is, it can affect everybody.

Insp Nelson also said that, from 2006-2012, 45% of all homicides in Queensland were domestic violence-related, with 161 DFV-related deaths occurring.

Of the 161 homicides, 100 of the victims were female.

"We need to ask why the statistics are higher in Capricornia," Insp Nelson said.

"The factors that cause DV and the cycle of violence is widely understood, but we're looking at Capricornia specifically… the environmental and local factors."

Local co-ordinator Vicki Dredge reiterated that the difficulties for police lay in the fact they could only act on what incidents they were made aware of.

"We're only going on what's reported, but not everybody reports to the police," she said.

"I encourage people to get help, there's no one solution that suits everybody."

She said people could also be proactive, using things like relationship counselling, in a bid to avoid situations spiralling into abuse.

"If somebody doesn't feel safe, they need to take a step to feel safe," she said.

"DFV doesn't discriminate; it doesn't matter what your background is, it can affect everybody."

With Domestic Violence month in May and White Ribbon Day after that, police are encouraging the community to step up the fight to stop domestic and family violence.

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