The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) have released their quarterly update on recorded crime statistics, which shows a 6.0% increase in domestic violence related assault, a 5.8% increase in indecent assault, acts of indecency and other sexual offences, and a 9.6% increase in breaches of Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs).
In responding to these statistics, Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS) NSW note that rates for all categories remain at alarmingly high levels but call for a critical eye in examining the contributing factors to the statistical increases recorded over the past 12-months.
Commenting on the trends, BOCSAR Executive Director, Dr Don Weatherburn, noted that “the rise in DV assault is… likely to be a case of increased reporting rather than increased domestic violence.”Further, that “domestic assaults occasioning grievous bodily harm (GBH) are much more reliably reported than less serious forms of assault [and these] have remained stable over the past two years…”
In a recent consultation with specialist domestic and family violence services across the state, WDVCAS NSW heard that, whilst there are still some issues with poor practice, policing of domestic violence is, on the whole, improving.
“We’re hearing a much greater commitment from police in undertaking welfare checks and in the systematic breaching of Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders, which is important”, says Hayley Foster, Director WDVCAS NSW. “And if you have more proactive policing, then you are going to have higher rates of reporting and more assault charges.”
Foster noted that it was important that the community was able to rely upon police for an effective response and recommended that if there were issues, victims of domestic and family violence make a complaint.
WDVCAS NSW emphasise that the BOCSAR statistics should be cause for the NSW Government double down on its efforts to support victims. “If we are seeing more victims of domestic, family and sexual violence coming forward to report that violence, then we need to ensure the services are there to support them to achieve safety, justice and wellbeing”,says Foster. “This means supporting victims and their children beyond the crisis period to ensure they have all their health, housing, income and support needs met, because guess what? If victims don’t have the essential supports, we can’t break the cycle of violence.”
Foster also highlights the need for governments to get serious about investing in a comprehensive, whole-of-community primary prevention strategy to address the root causes of domestic, family and sexual violence.”If we want to turn these shocking statistics around and stop the terror going on in NSW homes behind closed doors, then we need to get serious about a comprehensive national strategy to address the drivers of this epidemic”.
WDVCAS NSW, soon to be renamed Women’s Safety NSW, is the peak body for women’s domestic and family violence specialist services providing the primary response to women and their children impacted by domestic and family violence across NSW. WDVCAS member services supported 45,863 women with 40,130 accompanying children across NSW in 2018, providing 193,680 occasions of support across its WDVCAS, Safer Pathway and Family Advocacy Support Services (FASSs). WDVCAS NSW also represent a range of associate members from women’s housing and homelessness providers, women’s legal services, women’s information and referral services, staying home leaving violence providers and women’s health centres.
WDVCAS NSW advocates on the systemic issues impacting upon women and children who have experienced domestic and family violence through legislative, policy and practice reform.