Domestic violence deaths continue to increase despite the awareness that campaigners are trying to shed on the issue. New figures show that domestic violence orders are regularly breached, and police and welfare workers are pleading with the courts to take breaches seriously.
As recently as this week, one man died and another is fighting for life after a stabbing in Brisbane. Several children were also reportedly at the home in Alexandra Hills at the time of the attack just before the midnight on Tuesday. Police say the dead man is the partner of the wounded man’s ex-wife.
“The person that’s died was in a new relationship with a 37-year-old female that lived at this address,” Inspector Rob Graham said.
Only a few weeks ago, bikie Bronson Ellery, who was covered head-to-toe in prominent tattoos, knocked his former girlfriend, Shelsea Schilling unconscious and suffocated her with a pillow before killing himself on November 11 at his apartment. Ellery then put on a suit and his favourite song before laying down next to her body and ending his own life.
Her mother, Bonnie Markwell Mobbs, has adamantly denied her daughter rekindled her romance with Ellery after he was released from jail for violating a domestic order the 20-year-old had taken out against him. She said that “piece of paper (DV order) doesn’t do anything” because an obsessed former partner would continue to commit breaches.
Ms Schilling took out a domestic violence order against Ellery in September 2015. He breached it within weeks and continued to visit Ms Schilling’s workplace unannounced and peer into the windows of her parents’ home.
A Brisbane bank worker who crashed his car into the garage of his ex-girlfriends home southwest of Brisbane before dousing the house in fuel and setting it alight has died in hospital. During the incident, de Graff’s 23-year-old de facto partner, April Lane, her 48-year-old mother and two 18-year-olds locked themselves in the home’s bathroom before making a miraculous escape.
Police believe the incident was a case of domestic violence.
All three cases occurred in Queensland in the month of November alone.
Domestic Violence Deaths Exacerbated by Breaches in DV Orders
New figures show that one in every three domestic violence offenders on the Gold Coast and Logan is breaching their protection order. For the first time, new crime statistics show the extent of the problem as the number of orders broken in the region jumped more than 30 per cent in the past year.
Families of murdered victims and concerned MPs fear the domestic violence orders are “worthless pieces of paper”, giving no protection from serial offenders like bikie Bronson Ellery.
The number of first-time breaches jumped from 642 to 1001, more than 450 offenders broke their protection order twice, 233 three times, 128 on four occasions and 324 ignored it at least five times.
Men equated for 1822 of the 2145 breaches, but the number of female first-time offenders jumped from 118 in 2014-15 to 183.
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Police and welfare workers believe violent offenders are quick to test a domestic violence order within weeks of appearing in court and it is at the point of a potential first breach where tough action must be taken.
Domestic Violence Deaths Increase by 40% in NSW
In New South Wales, the number of domestic violence deaths continues to increase. There have been 32 homicides related to domestic violence across NSW so far this year, compared with 23 homicides at the same time last year.
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said that represents a 40 per cent increase in domestic violence incidents that results in death.
“These are more than just statistics, these are people’s lives,” Mr Scipione said. “These are people who are dying in our streets and we need to make sure that we’re doing all we can.”
Mr Scipione added that, in some cases, community members were aware of a history of violence in a home but had reservations about contacting police.Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Pru Goward, said there needs to be a cultural shift to encourage bystanders to play an active role in preventing domestic violence.
“It is a crime, we just have to start treating it as a crime,” she said.
Paid Domestic Violence Offered by More Organisations
Seventeen leading Australian companies, government organisations and a university have reviewed their paid leave policies as part of a joint push to tackle domestic violence and gender inequality.
The 17 include Goldman Sachs, Qantas, Deloitte, Commonwealth Bank Australia, ANZ, Deloitte, ASX, KPMG Australia, Rio Tinto, Telstra, McKinsey and Co and the Australian Army. Paid domestic and family violence leave was found to be a powerful symbol of commitment to supporting people experiencing violence.
“As a practical support, financial security can make the difference to whether a woman remains, escapes, or returns to an abuse relationship,” the report says. “Simplifying the approval process for leave helps to make it more accessible for employees.”
Of the 1.4 million Australian women who are or have been in an abusive relationship, 800,000 are in the paid workforce.
Nearly half of those experiencing violence report difficulty getting to work. Performance is also affected when employees feel anxious, distracted and unwell. KPMG estimates that by 2021, lost productivity linked to domestic violence will cost Australian businesses $609 million a year.
One in two women who leave an abusive relationship will return to live with the perpetrator, sometimes returning five or more times, research has revealed.
Domestic Violence & Homelessness
The research into domestic violence and homelessness Reducing the Need for Women and Children to Make Repeated Use of Refuge and Other Crisis Accommodation was conducted by Swinburne University of Technology.
The research showed the need for innovative models of intervention that allow women and their children to stay in the family home while keeping the perpetrator safely away.
The research investigated a number of innovative models across Australia and England which allow women and children who have experienced domestic violence to remain safely in their homes by excluding the perpetrator and providing a combination of housing, judicial and support services.
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The research advocates for these early intervention and integrated services, but says there is inconsistent service provided in each location and calls for more services to be established nationally.
The authors of the report also call for collaboration between police and support workers to be a formal process and for a common risk assessment tool to be adopted throughout Australia to ensure consistency for women and children experiencing domestic violence.
If you need assistance with domestic violence issues, please contact one of our friendly, experienced family lawyers. We offer a free, 10-minute phone consultation.