25% surge in DV victims needing Gympie services
A DROP in domestic violence order breaches was not being reflected on Gympie's frontline where one expert said the need for services had surged.
Community Action Erin House manager Bernadette Wright said this year there had been a "25-30 per cent” rise in the number of people seeking domestic violence help in the region.
This increase is in contrast to court data which reports a drop in the number of protection orders made, and charges laid for orders being breached.
The 2017-18 Magistrates Court of Queensland annual report reveals 556 protection orders were made in Gympie Magistrates Court over the financial year.
This was down from 648 in 2015-16 and 644 in 2016-17.
On average the Gympie region accounted for about 1.2 per cent of Queensland's total originating applications in that time.
The number of order breaches was also in decline.
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After an 89 per cent explosion in breach charges from 2015-16 to 2016-17 (from 207 to 392), this financial year Gympie's court is on track to have 235 lodged.
It would be the second drop in as many years; a 19 per cent decline was recorded between 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Ms Wright, who has been involved with Erin House for more than 30 years, said any drop in court and police numbers was not showing up in the community, though.
"We haven't seen a decrease,” she said, adding the country's domestic violence statistics left her with "grave concerns”.
Protection orders did have an effect for some offenders as a "wake-up call”, Ms Wright said, but did little to curb those who posed - or made - serious threats to their partners.
"It doesn't pick up the ones fleeing domestic violence who have to leave town,” she said.
And the scourge would not be stopped until the courts got serious with "significant” deterrents.
"Criminal charges and mandatory jail sentences have to be enforced,” Ms Wright said.
The reluctance for people to have their partners charged led to authorities treating the crime less significantly than they would a random assault.
"Very often they're very sweet after (they) abuse,” she said.
* For 24-hour domestic violence support phone the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. You can also contact DVConnect Womensline on 1800 811 811 and DVConnect Mensline: 1800 600 636.