Family violence increases in west

File photo.

by Alesha Capone

Requests for assistance with family violence are continuing to spike in the west due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a GenWest spokesperson.

GenWest (formerly Women’s Health West) is a not-for-profit organisation that provides services such as court support, crisis housing and case management to women and children who experience violence in the Wyndham, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton, Brimbank, Moonee Valley and Melbourne municipalities.

The GenWest spokesperson said that referrals from police to GenWest, in the western region of Melbourne, increased slightly from 2020 (13,132 referrals) to 2021 (13,493 referrals).

“That said, December 2021 was our busiest ever month, we received 1291 referrals from police,” the spokesperson said.

“COVID-19 continues to have an impact on victim-survivors accessing our services.

“We saw an increase in demand at the beginning of the pandemic, and calls we are receiving from victim-survivors at the moment are more complex, higher risk and require much more emotional support than we saw pre-pandemic.”

Victoria Police statistics also demonstrate that family violence crimes have been steadily rising within Wyndham, since the pandemic began, similar to many other parts of state.

The latest figures from the Crime Statistics Agency show that there were 4022 family violence offences reported to Wyndham police in the year to September, 2021 – a 12.6 per cent increase on the 3571 family violence incidents reported in the previous 12 months.

Out of the 621 serious assaults recorded by Wyndham police in the year to September, 2021, more than half were related to family violence.

More than 44 per cent of the indecent assaults reported in Wyndham were also related to family violence, along with 49.5 per cent of rapes and 6.1 per cent of aggravated burglaries.

The GenWest spokesperson said that they would encourage anyone living with family violence to seek help.

“That includes physical violence and emotional abuse, controlling behaviour, financial abuse and threats,” they said.

Anyone who needs support can contact GenWest on 9689 9588.

Outside business hours, contact Safe Steps on 1800 015 188.

In an emergency, call the police on 000.