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General News

27 January, 2023

Mayor determined to help DV victims

AN escalation of domestic violence in Mareeba and the damaging effect it has on families, particularly children, has prompted Mayor Angela Toppin to call on the State for more resources to help victims.

By Robyn Holmes

Mayor determined to help DV victims - feature photo

The disturbing issue was raised at a Mareeba Taskforce meeting in November last year, with police revealing that 40 per cent of their time was spent responding to and investigating violence in the home.

And at a Community Safety meeting held by Mareeba Shire Council in September, police advised there had been an alarming number of domestic violence-related calls for service in the past five years which had had a huge operational impact on officers.

Figures obtained from the Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service reveal that in 2020-2021 there were a total of 432 Domestic Violence

Protection Orders made in the Mareeba Magistrates Court including Temporary Orders and Variations.

During the 2021-2022 financial year, the organisation’s Tablelands service provided support to 228 new adult clients, in addition to clients who were already engaged with the service on an ongoing basis.

But there is no refuge in Mareeba, with women and children having to be housed in the Cairns or Tablelands refuges or even in other centres such as Townsville and Rockhampton, and this must change, says Mayor Toppin.

“The circumstances are dire and victims are being forced to leave their community to access support in other towns,” she said.

While council had no powers or responsibility in relation to community safety issues, the Mayor said the damage being done to families “disturbed her greatly” and the impacts it had upon the whole community.

“As Mayor, my concern is the impact this has on families – I’ve seen it in the past as an educator, the impact it has on children. It can devastate them for life because the trauma can be with them forever,” Mayor Toppin said.

“It then connects to me that the young children are often out on the streets to escape their home situation so this is leading to youth crime because they get caught up in that.”

Next month, Mayor Toppin will meet with Dr Kylie Stephen, the Assistant Director-General in the Office for Women and Violence Prevention to highlight the situation in a bid to increase services.

Tablelands Acting Inspector Kyell Palmer said police were committed to investigating all incidents of domestic violence and providing support to victim survivors.

“Police are heavily focused on adopting a victim centric and holistic approach when investigating these incidents,” he said.

“This approach means victim survivors are now coming forward to report incidents.”

He said while there were several support services available that could be utilised to assist victim survivors to escape domestic violence, police were always supportive of initiatives and programs that would enhance community safety.

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