Hotline to help victims as police see increase in violence
DOMESTIC and family violence has long been a national issue and Gladstone has not been exempt, but the Federal Government is fighting back against the devastating problem.
With local police experiencing an increase in particularly violent incidents, the Federal Government has responded with the introduction of the 1800RESPECT online and phone counselling service, provided by Medibank's telehealth arm.
The service was launched in October 2010, but the recently launched online portal is now also providing support for professionals working in the field who deal with family violence cases on a daily basis.
Family violence is prevalent throughout Australia and does not occur only in minority groups.
The support service was launched in August for counsellors and other professionals to ensure they did not become overwhelmed by "compassion fatigue" .
The website averages more than 6000 visitors each month, with a 235% increase in unique visitor traffic proving that the service is a necessity for victims and counsellors alike, as awareness rises.
Of the total visits to the website 16% were from Queensland, the third-highest in the nation behind New South Wales and Victoria.
A 1800RESPECT spokeswoman said DFV was endemic in Australia.
"Sexual and domestic violence is widespread within the community and will affect one-third of women and one-fifth of children at some point in their lives," she said.
"Family violence is prevalent throughout Australia and does not occur only in minority groups."
The spokeswoman said statistics revealed family violence was currently the leading cause of preventable ill-health and premature death in women aged between 18 and 45 in Australia.
1800 RESPECT facts
- Usage of the service increased by 240% since October 2010
- Federal Govt investing more than $45million into 1800RESPECT
- More than 3000 interactions made to service in August
- Of these, about 75% related to domestic and family violence
Gladstone counsellors seeing violence increase
DESPITE a recent police campaign to end domestic and family violence, local counsellors say they are still seeing an increase in violent incidents in Gladstone.
Relationships Australia counsellor Denise Reichenbach works at the Gladstone office and said as well as offering support for victims, counsellors also worked closely with offenders.
"DFV has a big impact on children; it can be emotional, mental, and there are a lot of different expressions of violence, and children are suffering enormously."
Ms Reichenbach said the Gladstone office worked closely with local police through its Policelink program, as concerns for children exposed to DFV increased.
"DFV really impacts child development because there's this constant source of fear, the kids are on edge all the time, it's basically a form of trauma," she said.
Ms Reichenbach said there were myriad reasons why DFV occurred, and cited financial pressures, long work hours and the transient nature of Gladstone as factors that helped create incidents.
"There's not many people working nine to five so there's not much of a balance in the area and it is such a transient workforce, so the community connections aren't as strong," she said.
Ms Reichenbach said the Alternatives to Aggression program specifically targeted men who had been charged with DFV offences, and worked on alternatives to violence to express their anger when stress built up.