WARRNAMBOOL police say their intelligence shows children who witness family violence are more likely to become young offenders.
Police divisional commander for the south-west Tracy Linford said through "hotspotting" police had also identified certain areas throughout the region where there were higher rates of family violence.
Superintendent Linford said the Great South Coast had the lowest rate of repeat offenders and victims in the state.
She said during the 2010-2011 financial year there were about 1100 reports of family violence to police and that number had risen to 1500 during the 2011-2012 period.
“We’re actually glad about that, this is an increase in reporting,” she said.
“We still think it is under-reported. But we’re glad to see we’re making some progress.”
Superintendent Linford said during the three-year period about 600 of the respondents, or those believed to have committed the violence, were women and about 2000 were men.
She said the age of family violence offenders was likely to be 20 to 24 year olds and 35 to 39 year olds.
“With divisional intelligence we have in this area, we do believe that children who experience family violence are more likely to go on to become youthful offenders,” she said.
Superintendent Linford said that in the last three years just under 400 intervention orders were applied for and police laid more than 800 charges.
“We have family violence officers who are passionate about this,” she said. “Our members understand what constitutes family violence. They know it’s more than just physical abuse.”
Superintendent Linford’s comments were made at a workshop to develop the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Children Strategy 2013-2017 which is being funded by Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West and Regional Development Australia.
The aim of the strategy is to improve the understanding of the issues and form an approach to the prevention of family violence across the whole community.
Regional manager for support service at Emma House Domestic Violence Services, Pat McLaren, said a lot of women who came to her organisation for support had never been to the police.
“If you’ve been psychologically abused for 20 years you might not see it as a police matter but rather a welfare matter,” she said.
She said in terms of the numbers of women who had committed family violence, often they were women with a history of being victims of family violence.