Progress is being made in the battle against domestic violence, according to the new head of Warrnambool police’s south-west family violence unit (SWFVU).
Sergeant Jason Puschenjak said the SWFVU had formed two-and-a-half years ago with the aim of tackling “recidivist family violence offenders”.
Teams such as the SWFVU and a societal push to make the issue more “publicised and prominent” through events such as White Ribbon Day were having an effect, he said.
“Reporting figures (of incidents of family violence) are up but that’s actually a good thing which means it’s getting reported more — various services and (reports) show it’s not that more family violence is going on,” Sergeant Puschenjak said. “It’s that there are better reporting processes and that people feel they can report it more.”
He said the SWFVU takes a “more analytical” approach to repeat domestic violence offenders and “at-risk juveniles”, working with the courts, the Department of Human Services, domestic violence services such as Emma House, and the corrections department.
“Our role is about enforcement (and ensuring) the parties are abiding by intervention orders and engaging with the relevant support services,” Sergeant Puschenjak said.
The SWFVU is responsible for a policing area that stretches from Camperdown to Hamilton through to Portland and beyond, providing information and advice to uniform members attending domestic situations involving recidivists and accompanying officers if possible.
He said the new focus on “at-risk juveniles” was partly in response to widely reported murders in other parts of the state involving children being killed at the hands of violent family members.
“Family violence continues to be a serious issue that requires an ongoing effort and responding more effectively is something we are committed to at all levels,” he said.
“It is our role to provide safety and support as well as ultimately identifying and investigating incidents and prosecuting those involved.
“However as a community we all have to work together to stop it from happening in the first place.
“We have actively raised awareness and promoted reporting and we continue to do that.”