'The laws are the issue’: Police praised by domestic violence support workers

Senior Sergeant Amanda Ahearn, Pat Thomas Refuge chief Jill Robinson and Allambee Counselling executive officer Nicole Lambert. Photo: Carla Hildebrandt.
Senior Sergeant Amanda Ahearn, Pat Thomas Refuge chief Jill Robinson and Allambee Counselling executive officer Nicole Lambert. Photo: Carla Hildebrandt.

Mandurah domestic violence workers have thrown their support behind police, saying it would be impossible to help victims without the authorities.

WA police statistics reveal a Mandurah family assault is reported every three days, increasing from 80 reports in 08/09, to 143 reports in 17/18. 

Pat Thomas House Refuge chief Jill Robinson said the centre worked closely with police to support these victims. 

“I don’t know what we would do without them,” she said. 

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But Ms Robinson said they usually had their “hands tied” when it came to charging offenders for violence breaches. 

“People say they (police) don’t come for breaches – but they can only go on actual physical evidence, that someone has been there (at the home),” she said. 

“They can go have a chat to him but they can’t legally do anything. 

“Their hands are tied a lot of the time.”

Allambee Counselling executive officer Nicole Lambert said police could only work within the domestic violence legislation framework.

“Police are not the issue, the laws are the issue,” she said. 

Everyone is closely aligned here.

Senior Sergeant Amanda Ahearn

Senior Sergeant Amanda Ahearn, who works at the Peel domestic violence police unit, said every person who was visited by police received a follow-up call.

Ms Ahearn said three police staff, a Rockingham refuge worker from the Lucy Saw centre, and a child protection worker comprised the unit.

Ms Ahearn said police referred victims to Mandurah support services for ongoing support. 

“Everyone is closely aligned here,” she said. 

Ms Lambert said her clients also received an “initial call” within 48 hours – but may need to wait for services.

“From that point, they may have to wait for regular counselling,” she said.

“If they are deemed to be a priority, and unfortunately a lot of domestic violence cases are, they will be offered services within a couple of weeks.

There’s no doubt that there could be more funding and services in this region.

Senior Sergeant Amanda Ahearn

“But someone will be in contact with them through that period of time.” 

Ms Ahearn acknowledged the domestic violence issue in the Peel region and the need for more funding. 

“There’s no doubt it’s a big region with a high domestic violence rate – it’s quite concerning,” she said. 

“There’s no doubt that there could be more funding and services in this region. 

“They would be well and truly utilised.”

Do you have anything to add? Send an email to editor.mandurahmail@fairfaxmedia.com.au. 

  • Are you experiencing domestic violence? Call police on 000 in an emergency or 131 444 to report an incident. For counselling or support services call the free 24 hour Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline on 1800 007 339.