Domestic violence rate soars in City of Swan and shires of Mundaring and Kalamunda

Last year's march through Midland. Picture: David Baylis d446665
The Spirit of the Streets choir will perform as part of White Ribbon Day.
Last year's march through Midland. Picture: David Baylis d446665 The Spirit of the Streets choir will perform as part of White Ribbon Day.

EARLY intervention work is a new focus of response services battling the rising tide of domestic violence across the Central Metropolitan Police District.

New figures released by Midland’s Koolkuna Domestic Violence and Advocacy Service show a 23 per cent increase in 2015-2016 incidence reports across the region for the City of Swan and the shires of Mundaring and Kalamunda.

More than half of the 4479 incidents reported involved families with children.

Crisis accommodation for 84 women and 143 children represented an increase of more than 35 per cent on previous figures.

Koolkuna chief executive Robyn Fitall said there had been a rise in self-referrals, indicating a greater awareness of the support services available locally.

She said not-for-profit organisations were overstretched and struggling under the weight of an ever-|increasing need.

“It’s hard to know whether the increase represents a rise in domestic violence or an increase in reported cases because more people are coming forward; it’s possibly a combination of both,” she said.

“Greater analysis of the underlying factors is needed: why more people are reaching for help and why is there greater demand?”

A new direction for Koolkuna has seen an extension of its education program into primary schools in an effort to reduce the risks associated with domestic violence.

The early intervention trial has involved outreach workers talking about safety with schoolchildren as young as five years old.

Ms Fitall said the program was about giving children a voice.

The single biggest campaign of the year for domestic violence workers is White Ribbon Day on November 25, when people are encouraged to stand up, speak out and act to prevent domestic and family violence.

More than 150 people attended last year’s march in Midland and as awareness of the social and economic impact of domestic and family violence continues to grow, White Ribbon organisers are hoping for a bigger crowd this year.

Central Metropolitan Police District Superintendent Kim Massam will join Ms Fitall to speak at the event and take part in the march with his officers in support of the campaign to end abuse.

There will be presentations and information stalls manned by local response services and singers from the Spirit of the Streets choir to entertain.

The Midland march is organised by a committee of representatives from local community service organisations including Midland Women’s Health Care Place, Centrecare, Relationships Australia, Parkerville Children and Youth Care, Koolkuna and Indigo Junction, formerly Swan Emergency Accommodation.