Benalla had the most reports of family violence in the Goulburn region last year and the most incidents of children witnessing domestic abuse.
These alarming statistics were presented during the launch of the White Ribbon Day campaign at Benalla Health last Wednesday.
Benalla Family Violence Network chairman and White Ribbon ambassador Neil Stott hosted the event.
He was joined by Senior Constable Katherine Allisey from the Benalla Family Violence Unit, who discussed the ways in which family violence was being dealt with by police.
‘‘White Ribbon Day is an important step towards putting an end to violence within the home,’’ Sen Const Allisey said.
‘‘I think it brings attention to the issue that we have in our community and highlights the fact that we need to work together to put an end to violence.
‘‘We’ve got some great support services and we’ve worked extremely well with them and hopefully in the near future we’ll see those statistics decreasing.’’
Sen Const Allisey said one reason Benalla could have had so many reports of family violence was due to the public’s confidence in the police.
Despite Benalla having a high level of reports when compared to other regional areas, it did not necessarily mean the city had the most incidents of family violence, she said.
Benalla women having the courage to report abuse allows the police to help them and work towards reducing the amount of incidents taking place.
However, there is a lot of work to be done and these statistics highlight the importance of the White Ribbon Day campaign.
White Ribbon Day aims to create a society that respects women, in which every woman lives in safety and is free from all forms of abuse
Mr Stott said White Ribbon Day aimed to stop men committing violence against women.
‘‘The statistics show that it’s predominantly women who are victims and men who are the perpetrators,’’ Mr Stott said.
‘‘And more importantly, men are more likely to be violent perpetrators.
‘‘There’s no doubt that men are victims of family violence too, but they’re not victims of extreme violence, they’re not the ones living in fear.
‘‘The female victims are the ones living in fear and we want to be able to stop that happening. We want to help and support victims.
‘‘We want to be able to challenge men about those behaviours now, but we also want to challenge men about how they raise their kids so we can stop family violence in the future.
‘‘The father has a significant role in raising a family and some need to have a long, hard look at their attitudes towards their partner and their kids.’’
Mr Stott said family violence occurred in all demographics and was not contained to the disadvantaged.
‘‘It’s across the board and is happening in homes in all types of neighbourhoods,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a problem and we need to do something about it.
‘‘We know it happens. Why it happens particularly in Benalla I’m not really sure.’’
Sen Const Allisey said working in the family violence unit could be challenging, but Benalla police were always available to respond to calls and assist victims.
‘‘We will always ensure that any person who reports family violence, whether it’s physical or emotional, will be assisted by the police at Benalla,’’ she said.
‘‘There’s a few different ways we can manage family violence dependent on what is reported.
‘‘There’s the civil process in relation to family violence intervention orders and safety notices.
‘‘Police have now been given the ability to issue an intervention order on the spot that will bring a perpetrator to court on the next available date.
‘‘Otherwise we can do it during business hours through the local court, or after hours through the after hours registrar.
‘‘That’s our civil process and then if any criminal offences have been reported we obviously investigate those and go from there.
‘‘Hopefully we’ll start to see the situation turn around in relation to holding perpetrators accountable and education that starts at a young age.’’
The White Ribbon Day march against violence will take place in Benalla on Thursday, November 23, and organisers are encouraging anyone who can make it to take part.
The march will begin on the corner of Carrier and Bridge streets and continue across the Benalla-Monash Bridge.
VicRoads, one of 35 local partners of White Ribbon Day, will close Bridge St for the march.
The partnership was signed at the VicRoads offices in Clarke St on Friday.
VicRoads north east regional director Nicki Kyriakou said it was important that an organisation like VicRoads showed leadership on this cause.
‘‘It’s an important cause and it’s such a difficult conversation for people who are experiencing family violence to feel comfortable to have,’’ Ms Kyriakou said.
‘‘So at VicRoads we’re in the community, we’re always out and about, we’re a big organisation and I think it’s really important that we show that leadership.
‘‘To show that we support this cause, and we support people who are experiencing violence to speak out and be able to have an environment where they know it’s safe to speak out, is really important.’’
●For more information on the White Ribbon campaign and the March against violence visit www.whiteribbon.org.au
If you are experiencing family violence or know of someone who is, call Benalla police on 57600200.