DOMESTIC violence has one of the highest recidivism rates of all the crime categories, and is still under-reported.
To start a local conversation on the matter, politicians, police, service groups and community members met on Wednesday at a dedicated Muswellbrook forum.
Hunter Valley Local Area Command (LAC) Senior Constable Kate Hobson provided insight into her role as domestic violence liaison, and how it has changed over the past six years.
“Instead of asking how we can best respond to people reporting family violence, we are asking how we can prevent the family violence,” she told those present.
“We are looking within our organisation to see how we can improve our responses, and we are also looking out and asking what local services and organisations can we partner with to improve outcomes.”
She said she had also seen the effectiveness of a new, world-first strategy.
“We now have the ability to take victim statements for domestic violence offences by video recording rather than taking a written statement,” she said.
“These statements are able to show the court the trauma that the victim experienced on the day, and I’ve seen first-hand how effective they are in the court room.
“Instead of a victim having to remember all the details of what happened on the day, we are able to show the video as their evidence in chief.”
There are also a variety of new tools and systems in place to curb the issue of domestic violence in the local area.
Goulburn MP and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward attended the event and said she was impressed with the turnout.
“This reflects that obviously Muswellbrook takes this seriously,” she told the Chronicle.
“I thought it was a very fruitful discussion.
“It’s about community awareness, but also so many specialist services are in this room who are parts of the system and they don’t always know how other parts of the system work.
“For example, a lot of the agencies wouldn’t know that the police have got all these new measures that they take.
“It’s important that people get to know what is in the system.
“And, I often get ideas from these discussions about what we can do better.”
The evening also included presentations from Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen; Ben Spence from the Department of Family and Community Services, and WDVCAS coordinator Angela Endersby.
Following the presentations, speakers formed a panel for Q&A session.