Family Violence Unit established at Horsham Police Station

A new Family Violence Unit will work out of the Horsham Police Station.
A new Family Violence Unit will work out of the Horsham Police Station.

ESTABLISHMENT of a specialised police unit has better equipped the Wimmera to tackle family violence.

The unit's aim is to make perpetrators more accountable and to keep victims safe.

Working out of the Horsham Police Station, the Family Violence Unit comprises police members who are specially trained to respond to cases of family violence.

Sergeant Chris Van Buuren said the team was set up to respond to the complex issue by working effectively with other support services.

"Police across the state responded to 65,000 family violence incidents last year," he said.

"Almost half of all assaults were related to family violence . In the Horsham area more than 50 per cent of assaults were family-violence related."

In 2012-13, Wimmera police responded to 893 incidents of family violence.

Sergeant Van Buuren said an appropriate response to family violence was critical.

"Not only does it leave physical scars from injury, but there are ongoing and profound psychological trauma and social costs for victims," he said.

"Our team will focus on supporting victims and improving their safety and the safety of any children as a priority.

"We will do so by working with agencies and support services such as Grampians Community Health, Wimmera Uniting Care, Grampians Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group, the Horsham Magistrates Courts, Corrections Victoria and Department of Human Services.

"A large part of our focus will also be on ensuring perpetrators are made accountable for their behaviour and repeat offenders are targeted.

"The team will take a proactive approach to charging, arresting and prosecuting offenders."

Sergeant Van Buuren said he hoped improving the response in the Wimmera would result in more victims having the courage and confidence to come forward, no matter when the violence happened.

He said there were 32 Family Violence Units statewide.

"The team will service Wimmera and surrounding areas. A second team operating out of Stawell will cover the Grampians and Yarriambiack areas," he said.

Grampians Community Health family violence regional integration co-ordinator Ross Anders said in a letter to the Mail-Times one in three women experienced physical or sexual violence perpetrated by someone they knew.

He said one in four children were exposed to family violence, which was a form of child abuse.

"These are not simply numbers and statistics - they are wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends," he said.

He encouraged people to join the Wimmera White Ribbon Community March on November 21.

"There will be a march along Firebrace Street, Horsham, to demonstrate our commitment to ending violence and upholding the safety of women and children," he said.

"The march is open to everyone, men, women and children and will culminate with a barbecue and guest speakers at May Park, Horsham."

Mr Anders said people could turn up on the day.

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