Offenders who breach family violence orders are almost three times more likely to end up in jail than they were 10 years ago.
A report released by the Sentencing Advisory Council found the state's incarceration rate for breaching family violence orders almost tripled in the decade to 2020.
In 2011, imprisonment was the fifth-most common sentencing outcome for a breach, with 14.4 per cent receiving a prison sentence.
By 2020, imprisonment had become the most common sentencing outcome at 40.4 per cent.
The report shows the introduction of new offences in 2013 is part of the reason with those who persistently breach a family violence order now able to be sentenced to a maximum of five years' jail.
The rate of fines for breaching family violence orders remained stable at about 20 per cent across the 10-year period, the report found.
But previous reports observed fines are often not appropriate in a family violence context, particularly if the money is drawn from communal funds.
Crime Statistics Victoria data shows Warrnambool's family violence rate (per 100,000 population) has been tracking higher than the state average for the past five years.
Breaches of intervention orders jumped in the local government area by 32.5 per cent in the year to December 2021.
Each week The Standard reports from the city's court rooms where men and women appear charged with breaches of court orders put in place to protect victims.
The breaches can be by attendance at the victim's home or workplace, through text messages or phone calls, keeping them under surveillance or physical abuse.
It's not uncommon for offenders to send hundreds of text messages a day to their victims, make contact through fake social media profiles and private phone numbers, or have someone else do those things for them.
Earlier this year, the south-west's new presiding magistrate Nanzio La Rosa described breaches of orders as a "merry-go-round" of violence.
"Family violence needs to be looked at very seriously," Mr La Rosa told an offender.
"I've jailed more people than you can name for breaching an intervention order.
"I've been doing this just over 19 years and there are a lot of people in custody because I say they go there."
Victoria Police western region division two Superintendent Martin Hardy said over the past decade police had significantly improved its approach to protecting victims and holding perpetrators to account.
"Teams of family violence detectives and uniform officers are routinely knocking on the doors of known family violence offenders across Warrnambool, putting them on notice. If they are caught offending or breaching a family violence intervention order, police will have absolutely no hesitation in bringing them before a court," he said.
"The complexities and volume of family violence remain a challenge for police, but we continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to breaches of intervention orders, recognising that they play an important role in supporting victim safety and holding perpetrators to account."
Superintendent Hardy strongly encouraged victims of family violence to "report it to police immediately, so we can commence a thorough investigation and, most importantly, provide them safety and support".
"Those who wish to seek support on behalf of somebody else - please also reach out. Police officers are here to listen and help and we will always take reports of family violence seriously," he said.
"Significantly, the month of May marks Australia's Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month. It is a time to raise awareness of the impact that domestic and family violence has on the community and to promote the message of zero tolerance."
The report showed more people were receiving jail sentences each year but fewer people were serving time in prison at any given time.
It suggested this was partly due to courts imposing more short prison sentences, especially for those who had been held on remand.
Changes to the Bail Act in 2018 made it far harder for people to get bail, meaning more people are held in custody than ever before.
Help is available, call 1800RESPECT.
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