Efforts to reduce the alarming levels of domestic violence in the Peel region are taking shape, with the Peel Says No to Violence campaign finalising plans to form a community alliance to make a stand against the escalating numbers of assaults.
Recent figures revealed police attend more than seven incidents a day on average in the region.
Across Peel there were 1145 domestic assaults recorded by police in the 2015-16 financial year, 823 in Mandurah alone.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety estimates one in four women have been subjected to physical violence by their partner.
Peel Says No to Violence received funding from federal women’s minister Michaelia Cash in July 2016 to begin tackling the problem and the Peel Community Development Group (PCDG), which manages the project, said its efforts would focus on understanding how women find help and then creating a community network to help them find it.
The project so far has interviewed dozens of women about the domestic violence they have experienced.
“It is about hearing their stories and by that we mean not necessarily the story of the violence although of course that becomes part of what the interview is about, but it’s also about understanding what made a difference and at what point they sought help and what was it or who was it that was the deciding factor,” psychologist Nicci Lambert said.
“Who was it they went to, where did they get that help because it’s not necessarily a service provider.
“What was it that made the difference?”
The information would then be used to form an alliance between community groups who could play a role in standing up against domestic violence.
“The idea is that we’ll be able to offer some ideas about how people might be able to take an active role in the alliance based on whether they’re a club or whether they’re an individual or whether they’re an agency,” Ms Lambert said.
“It might be about helping schools to become involved, it might be about awareness days for instance in sports clubs and community groups.”
PCDG board member Paddi Creevey said the Peel Says No to Violence project was the first part of a campaign that would would eventually address perpetrators.
“While this project will not be the panacea, what we hope it will do will be to bring many parts of the community together and will strengthen us all to say, ‘look, as a community we want people to be able to live in peace, we say no to people having to live in violence’,” Ms Creevey said.
“I think if you look at what affects communities badly, when people are having to cope with that they cannot at all reach their full potential and that’s a tragedy.
“While the project itself can’t solve all the problems what it can do is strengthen this community and it’s fantastic to be the chance to be the voice for people who often don’t have a voice.”
Canning MP Andrew Hastie, who leads a non-partisan alliance of federal parliamentarians against domestic violence, said it would important community groups played a role in the project.
“We always have to care for the victims of domestic violence, and they’re generally, if not always, women and children,” he said.
“As a community we need to wrap our arms around them and help them in their time of need, but if we want to really reduce the amount of domestic violence we need to get to the men who are the perpetrators.
“We need to show them positive examples of true masculinity, masculinity that is protective and caring and loving, especially in the family. A solution to that must involve men, so my vision is to see a lot of local men in the Peel region stepping up and looking for ways to mentor young men who might be predisposed to domestic violence or who are already perpetrators of it.”
Ms Lambert said an important aspect of the alliance would be ensuring it continued into the future.
“Beyond this project, we’re trying to set ourselves up as a community to have the collaboration and capacity to be able to continue to respond to the issue of violence in our community on whatever level that takes,” she said.
Services available to assist victims of domestic violence include:
- Pat Thomas House: 08 9535 4775
- Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 007 339
- Crisis Care Helpline: 1800 199 008
To report an incident related to family and domestic violence, call police on 131 444.
Victims of domestic violence in immediate danger should call 000.