Police Commissioner Chris Dawson says collaborative effort needed in family and domestic violence cases

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson. Picture: Kristie Lim
Police Commissioner Chris Dawson. Picture: Kristie Lim

A “COLLECTIVE” approach to family domestic violence from all governments, support organisations and authorities is needed, as issues cannot “solely” be solved by WA Police, according to the Police Commissioner.

There has been 23 alleged murders in WA this year relating to family and domestic violence, with three multiple family homicides in the past four months – more than double the 11 deaths in the whole of 2017.

This week’s Bedford tragedy followed a mother and her two children being found dead at their Ellenbrook home in July and the shooting of seven people in Osmington in May.

WA has the second-highest rate of reported physical and sexual violence perpetrated against women in Australia, behind the Northern Territory.

Speaking to reporters today, Commissioner Dawson said police were working on an overall assessment on whether there was any connectivity in the cause and factors associated with the three cases.

“Each of those are distinct and separate enquiries but we have an overarching thematic assessment being conducted,” he said.

“Whether it is a single loss of life or multiple losses of lives – each one we must and should treat as a tragedy of itself.

“We are giving as much attention as we can in the prevention of family violence.

“It cannot solely be done by police – this is a whole of community response to family and domestic violence…this cannot be solved by law enforcement.”

Commissioner Dawson urged people who were in a violent of dangerous family situation to contact police, the Department of Communities, counselling services, Lifeline and the Crisis Care Helpline.

“We want people to come forward and tell us and talk to the appropriate authorities and organisations about your personal situations – it should not be confined in a family home,” he said.

“This is a matter both Federal and State and indeed even local governments all have a collective need to coordinate and align our efforts together.”

He said while a rise in meth and ice abuse did aggravate situations, he did not want to attribute domestic violence to meth use.

In a public Facebook post, Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk said the number of alleged murders relating to domestic violence was “unacceptable”.

“There is no quick fix to this serious problem in our state,” she said.

“But we do know it is societal change, it is a systems change.

“We all need to start changing the conversation around family and domestic violence, including calling out behaviour that gives licence to it.”

In May, $6.9 million was allocated in the 2017-18 budget to implement the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme – an automated information-sharing platform to facilitate enforcement.

Support services for anyone who may require help:

Crisis Care Helpline 1800 199 008 (24/7)

Mental Health Emergency Response Line 1300 555 788 (Metro) or 1800 676 822 (Peel)

Rurallink 1800 552 002

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyondblue 1300 224 636