Perth: Spike in demand for family violence help after tragedies

Floral tribute outside the home of the Bedford tragedy. Picture: David Baylis d486705
Floral tribute outside the home of the Bedford tragedy. Picture: David Baylis d486705

THE number of West Australians needing help with  family violence issues has surged by 22 per cent in the wake of a series of tragedies over the past year.

Legal Aid WA says services provided to victims of family violence in Western Australia increased in 2017-18, with reporting of high profile cases contributing to more people seeking help.

The organisation has has had to introduce new services to keep up with the high demand, and has worked to increase community awareness of family violence, which combined with a rise in media coverage of high-profile cases may explain more people coming forward.

There have been three family mass murders in WA this year.

A grandfather shot his wife, daughter and her four children before taking his own life at a farm in Osmington, near Margaret River, in May.

Just over two months later, a 19-year-old man allegedly murdered his mother, sister and brother at their home in Ellenbrook in Perth’s outer northeast.

Earlier this month, a father allegedly killed his three young daughters, their mother and grandmother at a house in Bedford in the city’s inner northeast.

“When terrible incidents like this occur, there seems to be a spike in reporting,” Julie Jackson, director of Legal Aid WA’s family law division, told AAP on Friday.

“There has been an increasing trend over time towards people reporting and seeking assistance through services.

“In some communities there are still challenges with people coming forward and admitting what’s happening in their family.

“It’s obviously important that people come forward.”

Ms Jackson said the harrowing news reports showed family abuse victims they were not alone and made them reflect on their own relationships.

“It is really important to see there is an alternative to the awful life they’re leading.”