Spring 2019 Edition
Welcome to the Autumn 2019 edition of SydWest's Community Connections, our quarterly newsletter that brings you our news and events and more.
There were 2,254 reported instances of domestic violence in Blacktown last year alone, according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR).
Between July 2018 and June 2019, Blacktown local government area had the dishonor of leading the state in this regard, with nearly 700 more than the next worst.
I would could simply say that this is unacceptable in 2019, but it seems it is getting worse. Since 2014-15, domestic violence had been trending down in NSW until a frightening spike last year. In the last two years alone, instances of intimidation, stalking and harassment increased 9.7%. Over the same time period, breaches of Apprehended Violence Orders have jumped 11%.
This is appalling, not least due to the open secret that domestic violence is the most underreported type of case, according to our colleagues at Blacktown Local Area Command. These cases go unreported because they are overwhelmingly (99.4%) committed by people close to the victim, and are often considered “family matters”.
With Blacktown being one of the most diverse regions, many victims don’t go to the police because of cultural barriers. While some might be aware of hotlines or specialist organisations to turn to for support, they don't. There is so much that needs to be done to inform those that don’t know who they can talk to and so much more to support the women that are not culturally respected.
At SydWest we see at least one victim of domestic violence every day. Three-quarters of those are migrants that have been settled in Australia for more than five years and are unfortunately ineligible for our settlement services.
It is a disgrace that there are no CALD-appropriate domestic violence services for once a refugee reaches that ‘settled’ status. In a lot of instances, the victims are women that have arrived as part of a family unit and are economically dependent on their spouse. This means that going to the police may make it even worse for the victim if she is unable to sustain herself and her children, has nowhere to escape to and is running the risk of being isolated from her own community.
Often, acceptance of violent behaviours in certain cultures makes it harder in discussing domestic violence; victims are not able to speak to family and friends for emotional support at the very least.
Government, at all levels, must realise that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all cultures. Culturally and linguistically appropriate services need to be accessible for victims of all backgrounds. Cultural understanding of course is needed for all human services, not only domestic violence.
There is a desperate need for funding to allow strong and meaningful collaboration between specialist DV and migrant services and ensure that everybody has access to the safety they deserve. We hope that while there is a sense that women's rights are moving backwards government leaders will prove us wrong.
Women from all ethnic backgrounds have an equal right to safety and we must do better to protect it. With many women in influential positions in both government and business, it’s time we took a more collaborative approach to address domestic and family violence.