Hume family violence spikes, but signs aren’t all bad
FAMILY violence incidents in Hume jumped by 43 per cent, reaching 819 in the 12 months to March this year. In the preceding year, 572 such incidents were recorded by Victoria Police.
Berry Street Northern Family Violence Service senior manager Felicity Rorke said she wasn’t surprised with the spike.
Since August last year, the number of police referrals received by her agency had doubled.
Under a family violence code of practice, police must refer family violence victims to local support services.
“I’m not surprised that the figures are up; we’ve experienced an increase of 100 per cent in referrals from Hume since August,” Ms Rorke said.
“Overall, we get 350 referrals a month from seven local government areas in the north.”
She said the agency had received 40 police referrals each month in 2006.
It was difficult to tell whether family violence was increasing or whether more people were reporting it to police.
“Sometimes I wonder if we’re becoming a more violent society,” she said.
“There are increasing complexities like high unemployment, lots of disadvantaged and non-English-speaking people; there’s a whole range of reasons why.
“We’ve had a significant increase in resources, so we grew from six staff in 2005 to 25 now. With more staff the more we can do.
“People are coming out from behind closed doors. Women and men are saying they don’t want to put up with it [violence].”
Ms Rorke said men who had little respect for the law and who used the drug crystal methamphetamine were often involved in severe cases of family violence.
Hume police’s Acting Inspector Graham Banks said more people were confident in reporting incidents to police.
“In years past, people were reluctant to speak to police,” he said.
“I think there will be a reduction at some point. With an increase in staff we’re seeing more police on the streets and that discourages this type of behaviour.”