Reports of domestic violence increase in Bega Valley

iStock/Getty Images

iStock/Getty Images

New statistics show reported incidents of domestic violence in the Bega Valley have increased by almost 50 per cent over the last two years.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) figures show in the two years to March 2016 domestic violence related assaults were up 48.8 per cent. This is the third-highest increase in the state. 

South East Women and Children's Services manager Melissa Blain-Woodley agreed reported cases of domestic violence had definitely increased over the last two years.

“The demand for our services has gone up; the budget hasn’t but the demand has,” she said. 

She thought this increase was due to awareness being raised around violence in the home. 

“[Domestic violence campaigner] Rosie Batty has done a great job of raising awareness,” she said.

“As well as changes in law, and the police’s approach to domestic violence.

“Everybody is much more aware of it.” 

A case worker at Mission Australia Bega, Sam Stevenson, said incidents of domestic and family violence probably remained about the same in Bega.

But he has noticed more victims are coming forward and reporting such violence. 

“Our crisis centre in Bega has been at capacity since we opened 18 months ago,” he said. 

“I’d estimate that upwards of 90 per cent would be there due to domestic violence.” 

Both Mr Stevenson and Ms Blain-Woodley said while the number of cases have risen, the budget to deal with the issue has not.

“Everybody is very stretched at the moment due to the increase in referrals,” Mr Stevenson said.  

An issue local victims still face is large distances between them and emergency services.

“We are remote and due to the long distances we have to travel there is still a fear of reporting domestic violence,” Ms Blain-Woodley said.

Domestic violence incidents do not always occur at night, but when they do it can mean the victim is less likely to report the incident. 

She said some women calling 000 at night for help are afraid there won’t be a response from the police in time because the Bega Valley is a large area.

Domestic violence costs the NSW economy $4.5billion a year and is the most common preventable cause of death, ill health and disability for Australian women under the age of 45.