At least once a week, often more, I sit in on cases at Goulburn court house. I started court reporting 12 months ago and while there has been a steep learning curve, the most difficult part has been hearing the often heart-wrenching stories of people who live in our town.
After a while the rhythms of the courtroom become commonplace, you become hardened to the cases that once shocked you. But, the prevalence of domestic violence in our community still shocks me every time.
In the three days Goulburn Local Court sat from May 24 there were 32 domestic violence related matters brought before the magistrate.
The idea that domestic violence doesn't happen in our backyard is an illusion. People from every walk of life and every living situation are impacted in our community.
A lot of the people charged with committing these offences grew up in households affected by domestic violence. The problem seems to flow through generations.
My mother always says that one of the most important roles of a parent is to teach and demonstrate to their children everyday how to treat a partner. Sadly, it would seem the wrong message is often passed down from parent to child.
Criminal Courts Statistics released by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research on May 27 paints a picture of the scale of domestic violence across NSW.
The data reveals that in 2020 there were 60,468 domestic violence related finalised charges in this state alone.
And those are the cases that were actually reported to police.
Shockingly, there were 13 charges of domestic violence related murder for 2020 in NSW.
The men and women psychologically and/or physically abused by a current or former partner who appear in court all have different stories. But the feeling of fear and a lack of control over their lives seems universal.
Breached Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (AVOs), breached bail conditions and people fearing for their lives while a case is going through the court system is all too common.
Criminal histories as thick as a book, filled with page after page of violent offences, the charges slowly becoming more serious are frequent when it comes to the more appalling cases.
Stronger penalties and police powers are needed to truly get the message across that domestic violence will not be tolerated.
A report released on June 3 found the number reported domestic violence assaults largely remained stable in NSW last year despite COVID-19 restrictions and self-isolation requirements.
The BOCSAR report found there was no evidence of a delay in the reporting of domestic assault incidents to police during the period that stay-at-home orders were in place.
There was evidence, however, to support an increase in non-criminal domestic arguments and disturbances attended by police from the time restrictions were introduced in late March through to mid-July.
So, what can we do to help stop this scourge in our community? Speak out against domestic violence, listen to and believe victims, and hold people accountable for their behaviour. We need to get the message across to every man, woman and child that domestic violence has no place in our society.
If this article brought up issues or you would like to talk to someone you can seek support from one of these services. If it is life threatening call 000 Triple Zero.
- Kids Helpline 1800 551 800 (available 24/7, for young people between 5 and 25)
- eHeadspace 1800 650 890 (available 9am to 1am, everyday, for young people between 12 and 25)
- Lifeline 13 11 14 (available 24/7, for all ages)
- QLife 1800 184 527 (available 3pm to midnight, everyday, for all ages)
- 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732 (available 24/7, for all ages)
- Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78 (available 24/7, for men of all ages)