OPINION: Violence stats hit home, but help is at hand

iStock/Getty Images

iStock/Getty Images

A report this week showing incidents of domestic violence in the Bega Valley have increased by almost 50 per cent within two years is alarming.

The Bureau of Crime Statistics release puts this lovely Valley in the top three for the state for increased reports of family violence.

Domestic and family violence on the Far South Coast is, unfortunately, nothing new.

Purple signs firmly stating “The Bega Valley says No to Violence” greet locals and visitors alike to many of our towns.

Our local courts continue to deal with page after page of domestic violence-related AVO applications every week.

Bega district support services report ever-increasing demand, all while their budgets remain static.

However, as abhorrent as the act of committing violence against women and children is, there is a potential silver lining to this report.

Could the increase in incidents be attributed to an increased willingness to report such violence – either by the victim or their family and friends?

If so, it’s an arguably positive result to an appalling situation.

That victims of abuse feel supported enough to step forward and speak out against their attacker is a telling indication of our community’s growing empathy and understanding of their situation and need for help.

Meanwhile, reports also surfaced during the week the state government is set to fit domestic violence offenders with GPS-enabled ankle bracelets to restrict their movements and ensure they do not approach their victims. It’s part of a $300million package to protect women to be announced in this month’s NSW budget.

Not to be gender-biased, $13million will be directed towards piloting responses for male victims of domestic violence.

A magistrate would have to order the issuing of the GPS device, fitted with a tamper alarm and worn on an offender's ankle, as part of a bail application or sentencing.

Victims will be given the option to carry their own GPS unit, which would alert authorities should the offender come within a certain distance.

Could this work in the regional small town landscape of the Valley?

  • Domestic Violence Line: 1800 656 463
  • Sexual Assault Hotline: 1800 424 017
  • 1800RESPECT: A national support line for victims of trauma