The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics report on recorded crime by offenders shows that men are overwhelmingly responsible for domestic and family violence, with the most common offence being an act to cause injury.
In the five jurisdictions where data was collected – NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory and ACT – there were more than 35,000 offenders of domestic and family violence between July 2014 and June 2015.
A person was counted as being an offender if they were recorded as having at least one selected offence that was flagged by police as being family and domestic violence related. The offences included: homicide; acts intended to cause injury; sexual assault; abduction/harassment; and property damage.
The report shows that more than 19,000 people in NSW alone were deemed to be perpetrators of domestic and family violence, with four times as many male offenders (16,273) as female offenders (3670).
In the ACT, there were more than eight times as many male offenders.
The figures for the Northern Territory were even more alarming, with 1185 offenders per 100,000 persons, compared to NSW where there were 302 offenders per 100,000 persons. In the Territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders represented 89 per cent of offenders.
The report also showed that the age profile of offenders was similar across the five jurisdictions with the highest proportion in the 20-34 years category. The second highest proportion was in the 35-54 years age category, while those aged 55 years and over were the least represented group.
Where Can Perpetrators of Violence Get Help?
Breathing Space is a residential program for domestic violence perpetrators run out of a house in suburban Perth that has the backing of high profile campaigner Rosie Batty.
While living in the Breathing Space house, perpetrators have four hours of group therapy per day, including parenting courses and a class called Understanding Emotions. The men split into pairs and become counsellors for each other, their conversations ranging from the recent death of a friend to their current custody battles.
Co-ordinator Holly Florance said while the program was treating men, its focus was on the safety of women.
“Whether the guys are in a relationship now or not, eventually they are going to get into another relationship so it’s about teaching them skills and teaching them that they do have a choice and that way, potentially we’re protecting further victims.”
The program has so far treated more than 800 domestic violence perpetrators. Communicare CEO Melissa Perry is pushing to have it rolled out nationally.
“It costs about $12,000 per person to participate for the three month period… it costs almost $300,000 a year to incarcerate a man in our justice system so from my point of view it’s a no brainer.”
Ms Florance said the attendees came from diverse backgrounds but the one thing they had in common was a desire to change.
“I think people can change 110 per cent, I think domestic violence being such a specific learned behaviour. We’re teaching them different strategies, different skills, different methods, we’re teaching them communication, we’re breaking down behaviours and teaching them how to behave differently.”
Empowering Victims to Ask for Help
NSW Police has launched a powerful new video campaign denouncing domestic violence with the message, “it’s not your fault”.
“Police officers attend hundreds of domestic violence incidents every day and see first-hand the impact and harm it has on families,” NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner Mick Fuller said. “Children are the hidden victims of domestic violence, which is why children feature so prominently in the campaign. There are no innocent bystanders in this space. By reporting domestic violence, you could prevent the next homicide.”
The 30-second community service announcement aims at empowering and educating victims of domestic violence to come forward, emphasising the fact that it is not their fault.
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