75,000 domestic violence cases in three years

p2356-reece-kershawDarwin’s White Ribbon Black Tie gala ball last week was in for a shock.

 

The function, attended by 200 including the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Natasha Fyles and the Minister for Territory Families, Dale Wakefield, was told by NT Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw (pictured) that in the last three years the NT experienced close to 75,000 domestic and family violence cases.

 

One fifth of them resulted in an injury to the victim.

 

This is what the commissioner said:

 

The majority of domestic and family violence (DFV) offenders are Indigenous males aged between 20 and 34.

 

The majority of DFV-related homicides involved an Indigenous offender, of a limited educational background who was heavily intoxicated at the time of the offence.

 

There were 23 homicide deaths over the period with alcohol being involved in 100% of those deaths. The median age of the offender was 27.

 

The vast majority of offenders have previously been subject to a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) in their lifetime and the majority of offenders have had prior instances of serious violence offending.

 

At least one child is subject to DFV violence every day of the year in the NT, and a child witnesses a DFV incident at least three times every day of the year.

 

Alcohol remains a primary factor (63% of all reports) and has a far reaching involvement in all aspects of DFV.

 

Peak periods of offending remain predictable. The highest month is December, with Friday and Saturday accounting for 33% of offending and the highest period for those offences is between 8pm and midnight.

 

The lowest period is between 6am and 7am.

 

Our Southern Command accounts for the majority of DFV offences within the NT, over 40%, with the Alice Springs Division accounting for close to a quarter of all DFV offences Territory wide. 44% of all DVF reports with offences attached are a reported breach of a DVO and 44% of all DVF offenders reoffended within the reporting period.

 

When accessed, men’s intervention programs are an efficient education service to improve the safety of DFV victims.

 

In 2015-16 there was a 231% increase in referrals made by police for support following a domestic violence incident compared to the previous year. In 2015-16, 1096 referrals of victims of domestic violence to a social support service through SupportLink.

 

DFV in the NT is complex and features deep rooted issues that require concentrated and continued
efforts for change. We are the only jurisdiction with mandatory reporting and whilst we are seeing increases, this can be seen as a positive sign that there is more community confidence to report, however the prevalence of offending is alarming.

 

I want to relay a story to you about a victim of domestic violence. I have to be careful with what I say on this story as the offender was only recently convicted and sentenced for his crime and the appeal period has not passed.

 

On June 18 Carlie Sinclair, the mother of a young boy called Alex, was killed by her partner Danny Deacon
in Darwin.

 

He reported her missing to police at the time stating that he had an argument with her that night and she
walked out of their yard and he never saw her again.

 

So began what was initially a missing person case quickly turning into a homicide investigation as police formed the opinion that she had met with foul play. The investigating officers did what all good investigators do – they kept an open mind and looked at all possibilities; they searched through hours of CCTV, checked with friends, conducted line searches and followed many leads. However it became obvious  there was only one suspect in this matter, her partner.

 

For nearly 18 months police were unable to prove his guilt. But they refused to give up and persevered. With the help of Western Australia detectives they were finally able to gain a confession and recover the body of Carlie that had been buried in a clandestine grave south of Darwin.

 

Carlie did nothing wrong. She simply fell out of love with her partner and the father of her son. She made plans to leave him for a better life, to escape his controlling clutches.

 

She sought legal advice on how to do things properly but she was understandably fearful of what Danny would say.

 

The couple had previously come into contact with police, however that was as a result of custody dispute when Danny took their son out of day care for one day.

 

There were no domestic violence orders in place as there were no grounds for any to be taken.

 

Danny’s reasons for killing Carlie changed many times and we will never really know what they were. However it is apparent they were always self serving.

 

On September 16 Danny Deacon was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 21 years 6 months.

 

Out of this tragedy were born some heroes.

 

Police investigated, never gave up and ultimately solved the case, as they will tell you proudly.

 

But they were simply doing their job, and they owed it to Carlie and her loveed ones.

 

The real heroes in this case are Carlie’s family. Her father Robert, her brother Kristian and her mother Marlene.
All have acted with strength, integrity and dignity. They were indefatigable in their faith that police would solve Carlie’s murder and return her body if possible.

 

Marlene in particular, regularly fronted the media on behalf of investigating police to ensure that the investigation did not go cold. Her strength of character to see this through to the end is simply inspiring. She wore a white ribbon proudly in court, the day the killer of her daughter’s sentencing.

 

Carlie is the reason we are here tonight. To raise awareness about domestic violence and to make a stand.

 

To us Carlie is not a statistic and never will be, she will always be remembered as a loving mother who did not deserve to die at the hands of her partner. May she rest in peace.

 

As many of you know, last year I announced a focus on gender balance in recruitment, with a 50/50 male and female target for police recruitment courses.

 

It is well known that workplaces that support diversity and inclusion create confidence, inspiration and engagement in their people.

 

These are powerful drivers for innovation – increasing employee satisfaction, health and wellbeing as well as economic performance, productivity and employee retention. When we have equality of opportunity for personal success, this has positive effect on our community.

 

I am planning to implement mandatory domestic and family violence training for all of our staff at PFES.

 

As a consequence of our victim-first approach I strongly support the establishment of a Violent Offender Register. This will enable police to declare the most violent and repeat offenders as a community / public safety risk and not just isolated to the victim. Such a register will be supported by reinforcing Body Worn Camera Evidence in Chief legislation to relieve the burden on victims during court processes.

 

 

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5 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Paul Parker
    Posted October 21, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Re: Peter Stewart Posted October 11, 2016 at 11:57 am
    Such uses of term “Indigenous” remain racist actions.
    To exempt others by racial tags multiplies the problems.
    Government(s) regularly exempt themselves to avoid being held accountable for their actions and in-actions, thus adding to original problems, while also postponing serious addressing of actual issues.
    A drunk is a drunk is a drunk, regardless of race.

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  2. Peter Stewart
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Forgive me if this post is redundant but it occurred to me that given 100% of homicides are alcohol driven why not use the suspended racial discrimination act opportunity to implement a blanket ban on Indigenous alcohol purchase?
    The consequences might be numerous – drop in violence, more money for food, children able to sleep eat and go school? Women less likely to be subject to violence etc

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  3. Paul Parker
    Posted October 1, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Re: Anna Posted October 1, 2016 at 11:32 am
    While alcohol is often a factor it is not an excuse for doing nothing. Alcohol being involved often requires something be done.
    Victims may be to fearful to be applicants, so without police ability to apply for such orders, many orders are not obtained.
    The ability of police to apply for such orders increases their use and effectiveness.
    With alcohol involved police may instruct persons breaching orders to chose walk away, or, be arrested and taken to court for breach of court order.
    My experience was most chose walk away, to avoid being arrested then spend time in cells.

    .

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  4. Anna
    Posted October 1, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Nice idea, but with alcohol being a primary factor two-thirds of the time, it doesn’t sound like a practical idea.

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  5. Paul Parker
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Clearly part of the problem is this: “There were no Domestic Violence Orders PVOs) in place as there were no grounds for any to be taken.”
    We need PVOs able to be applied for and obtained when applicants are fearful the respondents may harm them, regardless of whether they are in a relationship.
    PVOs should not be compared to criminal matters, rather as no-blame orders.
    The aim of No-Blame is to encourage respondents to accept applications for such orders without fear of being stained by guilt, with only their obligation to comply with terms of orders issued by the court.
    With such orders police attending reported disturbances then may order respondents to either walk away or be arrested with the facts referred to the court for decision.
    If such an order is breached it would be contempt, thus a serious matter.
    Such protective orders then encourage respondents to avoid, to walk away, not remain or face criminal charges.
    The principle benefit from such protective orders is to educate both respondents and the public about acceptable conduct, resulting in reductions of violence.

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