“OVER-stretched resources and programs responding to domestic violence in Queensland need to be strengthened,” Centacare Brisbane’s Family and Relationship Services director Christine Hodge at the end of a week of tragedy said.
The deaths of two women and a child in the state within a week as a result of domestic and family violence sparked a call for action within the community and for government to consider policies aimed at addressing the issue.
Ms Hodge supports the State Government’s proposals “to activate the recommendations made from the inquiry by former governor-general Quentin Bryce” which resulted in the Not Now, Not Ever report earlier this year.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, in the wake of the recent tragedies, committed to fast-tracking some of the report’s recommendations.
Ms Hodge said strengthening the over-stretched resources and programs responding to domestic and family violence could result “in additional emergency housing options, appropriate emergency service responses and judicial penalties to hold perpetrators of violence much more accountable”.
“Domestic and family violence assaults are still regarded as not as serious a crime as the same assault perpetrated by a person on the street against a stranger, for example, the king hit,” she said.
Ms Hodge said she would like to see more resources go into working with perpetrators, most of whom were men.
“Services for men are seriously under-funded, and working with perpetrators makes families safer,” she said.
“Further to this, it would be forward thinking of the government to consider the outcomes of the Specialist Domestic Violence Court pilot that has begun on the Gold Coast, with a view to fund this in the future throughout Queensland.
“This pilot aims to provide a faster, safer response to victims seeking DV orders as well as funding more perpetrators’ groups.”
Ms Hodge said Centacare’s services were reporting that the degree and intensity of the harm being done through domestic and family violence assaults was increasing.
She said colleagues in the sector were reporting the same trend.
Queensland police receive an average of 200 calls a day about violence in the home.
Ms Hodge said Centacare services had also reported a worsening in the severity of perpetrators’ mental health issues, alcohol and/or drug use including ice, and the terror being experienced by women and children.
“Centacare Domestic Violence Services are hopeful that the recent tragedies with their increased publicity and more informed media reporting of domestic and family violence incidents and community consciousness-raising will result in additional government action with regard to funding currently under-resourced services and programs which will strengthen timely crisis responses,” she said.
Ms Hodge said “solid, timely and integrated responses available through Queensland Police Service, emergency services and judicial system are critical to support the crisis interventions offered by Centacare”.
“In collaboration with the police, the courts and other community organisations, and using a case management approach, … tragedies could be minimised and prevented,” she said.
“Even these responses can only deal with existing and current violence but, as the report ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ clearly highlights, long-term prevention can only be achieved through community education and broad change in community attitudes, at every level, towards women and children, and to domestic and family violence.
“We can think of what we do – along with all the other services and supports as the raft on the rapids.
“We deal with the immediate problem but the river flows on all around us – hence the need for sweeping societal and attitudinal change.”
For more information on Centacare and its services contact 1300 CENTACARE (1300 236 822).