Wimmera family violence order breaches increase

FAMILY violence order breaches have increased in every Wimmera municipality in the past four years.

The latest Crime Statistics Agency data shows the region had 750 breaches across six municipalities in the 12 months to March this year. This was up from 429 breaches in the year to March 2015.

Horsham Rural City recorded 396 breaches in the 12 months to March 2018, up more than 100 offences from four years ago.

Northern Grampians Shire recorded 96 offences in the same 12 months, while Ararat Rural City had 153 and Hindmarsh Shire recorded 23.

Yarriambiack Shire had 73 breaches in the same period, and West Wimmera Shire had nine. All figures were higher than four years ago.

Wimmera Superintendent Paul Margetts said there were a few reasons for the increased number of offences.

“The first part is that over the past 12 months, we’ve had changes with the introduction of a family violence team. There has been a real focus on the behaviour of perpetrators,” he said.

“Part of that work has built confidence within affected family members to report to police. Out of that reporting, we've then initiated actions against perpetrators in terms of orders and personal safety notices.

“The other part is we’ve also been engaging with perpetrators to gain an understanding about what it is that's led them towards that behaviour, and then worked with support agencies to put systems in place to prevent future behaviour.

“We're seeing some success in that approach, in terms of reducing the number of perpetrators. But we also see people unable to make the change come back as repeat offenders.”

Mr Margetts said it was vital the community, police and other agenices worked in partnership to eliminate family violence.

“I am delighted that additional resources are being provided to police for working in the family violence area,” he said.

“We're seeing that the work we do is also having an impact on other community harm, in terms of reducing the consequences that have come from youth crime, mental health, and non-family violence assaults.

“Over the next 12 to 18 months, as our new family violence team resources come online and that team builds up, we'll be able to continue that work and support cultural change across our communities.”

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