TaskforceNQ is calling for the establishment of a dedicated domestic and family violence co-responder program for Townsville.
Taskforce chairperson and Mayor Jenny Hill said Townsville had a disproportionately high number of domestic and family violence cases.
“Townsville district has the third highest rate of domestic and family violence per capita in Queensland,” Cr Hill said.
“The Queensland Police Service is, on average, responding to 18 domestic and family violence cases every day in the Townsville district.”
“Research shows people living in regional Australia are more vulnerable and have increased risks due to the victims restricted ability to leave violent relationships and access formal and informal support.”
Cr Hill said that social isolation associated with the COVID-19 global pandemic was masking domestic and family violence visibility and exacerbating the situation.
“In April, the United Nations declared this a “shadow pandemic” and called for governments worldwide to commit more funding to ensure safety from violence during this period,” she said.
Cr Hill said 70 per cent of calls to the Queensland Police Service for domestic and family violence-related matters occurred outside of business hours with no specialist providers offering after-hours crisis support.
The taskforce is seeking $900,000 in annual funding for a minimum of five years for the program.
North Qld Domestic Violence Resource Service CEO Mandy Thompson said co-responder programs were widely supported for mental health, sexual assault and youth support.
“That there is no existing funding for a co-responder program to address the major health and welfare issue of domestic and family violence is something that needs to change urgently,” Ms Thompson said.
“Under the co-responder model, we would partner with QPS Vulnerable Persons Unit by providing specialist social workers to respond to calls for service 7 days a week, including after-hours response”.