South West superintendent monthly column - October 2020

White Ribbon Day 2018 organiser Hovea Wilkes, South West Family Domestic Violence Unit officer in charge Don McLean with guest speakers Leah Bowman and Gareth Reed. Photo by Emily Sharp.
White Ribbon Day 2018 organiser Hovea Wilkes, South West Family Domestic Violence Unit officer in charge Don McLean with guest speakers Leah Bowman and Gareth Reed. Photo by Emily Sharp.

South West Superintendent Geoff Stewart will be providing Mail readers with a monthly column on regional crime issues.

This month, he explains why family violence is never acceptable.

Like the rest of the state, we have enjoyed some positive trends around reported crime.

Property crime especially has seen drops across the board and it's the same for other areas too.

Don't get me wrong, we are not taking our foot off the pedal and are going to keep doing everything we can to drive community safety and security.

But there is one area that has remained a constant in terms of the level of offending and pain for individuals and families.

Family violence. We still have too much of it and it has to stop.

This year has seen significant changes to laws with the introduction of two new criminal offences of suffocation and strangulation.

Why?

Because suffocation and strangulation are perversely intimate and callous forms of violence.

In committing this act, a perpetrator conveys to the victim that they have the power to take their life away.

Acts of suffocation and strangulation represent a distinct risk when committed in circumstances of family violence and research shows that suffocation and strangulation committed against an intimate partner is one of the strongest indicators of an increased risk of homicide.

Women who experience an episode of non-fatal strangulation by their intimate partner are over seven times more likely to be killed than other women.

Sadly, our communities are not immune to this.

In addition to this, a new offence also states a person commits a crime if they persistently engage in family violence.

It has to stop. We cannot let any victim or family go through this. We need to be there for them and assist them in any way we can.

How?

Tell someone, just tell someone. Don't wait to it's too late. There is a raft of services available in the South West you can tell, police included.

There are people reading this right now who know there is family violence occurring with a loved one or friend. Tell someone.

On Friday November 20 I will be marching with others in the White Ribbon Community March in Bunbury demonstrating my belief that violence against women is not acceptable.

If you feel as strongly about it, why not join me and others. Make it clear to victims we are there for them and make it clear to perpetrators, it is unacceptable and abhorrent to us all.

If you need help, contact RESPECT on 1800 737 732

This story Family violence must stop first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.