CRE Geraldton summit: Family violence on the agenda as leaders gather to tackle hotbed issue

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Lisa FavazzoGeraldton Guardian
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Desert Blue Connect’s Beth Martin (second from left) with Natalie Hope, Ross McKim, Peter Treharne and Chris Lee from the City of Greater Geraldton.
Camera IconDesert Blue Connect’s Beth Martin (second from left) with Natalie Hope, Ross McKim, Peter Treharne and Chris Lee from the City of Greater Geraldton. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

About four reports of family violence were made to police in the Mid West and Gascoyne every day over the past six months.

But a community group organising a family violence prevention summit says official police data only scratches the surface and fails to capture the true magnitude of the issue.

Police figures show 774 reports of family violence — either serious or common assaults — were made between October 2020 and March this year, compared to 742 in the same period 12 months prior — a jump of more than 4 per cent.

Desert Blue Connect CRE co-ordinator Beth Martin said 83 per cent of women experiencing family violence from a partner did not contact police.

Mid West Gascoyne Police Superintendent Roger Beer said dozens of domestic violence reports were made every week, with these call outs not always resulting in prosecution.

“What is important (is that) we attend (and) we make the situation safe,” he said.

For Supt Beer, the proactive part of preventing family violence is more important than the police response, which is what next month’s Community Respect Equality (CRE) summit is all about.

People from across Geraldton will come together with national domestic violence prevention minds to tackle domestic violence in the Mid West.

Advocate and Angelhands Inc founder Dr Ann O’Neil, Our WATCh senior practice adviser Audrey Walker and The Men’s Project general manager Paul Zappa are among the speakers.

“The best way to stop family violence before it starts is by working to change our community’s attitudes and social norms that drive family violence,” Ms Martin said.

“Local people, business and industry play an important role in making this change happen.”

The summit will launch on May 26 at the Bundiyarra Aboriginal Corporation. The main ticketed event will run all day at the QEII Community Centre on May 27.

Desert Blue Connect will host a free workshop the next day called The Unpacking of the Man Box.

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