16 February / In My Community.com.au
CHILD protection workers and police officers will work hand-in-hand in an Australian-first initiative to boost the front-line response to domestic violence and child abuse.
Child Protection Minister Robyn McSweeney and Police Minister Rob Johnson welcomed the historic agreement between their agencies that would provide greater support for families affected by violence in the home.
Under the scheme, child protection workers and police officers will work together from the Joondalup, Midland, Fremantle, Rockingham and Inglewood police stations.
When police officers respond to a call-out, child protection workers would have immediate contact with the family to provide support, such as helping to secure a safe environment for children and referring women and men to domestic violence services.
The combined agency approach had been trialled in the Armadale and Cannington police stations for the past five years.
Mrs McSweeney said it had produced excellent results, with the number of domestic violence incidents in the south-east metropolitan area dropping by almost 50 per cent.
“This important co-location initiative is a major milestone in reducing child abuse and violence in the home and will provide a higher level of support and protection for victims. It will also help those who inflict the violence,” she said.
“Last year in Western Australia there were more than 31,000 instances of family and domestic violence and, tragically, 18 people died as a result of being assaulted by a member of their own family.
“Research also shows that a staggering 25 per cent of young people witness violence against a parent at some time.
“The Liberal-National Government is committed to tackling the unacceptable scourge of family and domestic violence, which is a factor in one-third of child protection cases and 40 per cent of child sexual abuse cases.”
Mr Johnson said the initiative was not just about responding to family and domestic violence.
“It’s about prevention for the future and ultimately breaking the intergenerational cycle of violence,” he said.
“The offender of tomorrow is often the vulnerable child of today.
“This model of working will improve information sharing between the agencies, provide earlier responses to incidents of domestic violence and have a continuing focus on the connection between child abuse and domestic violence.
“All members of the community have the right to feel safe in their own home.”