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Domestic violence emergency calls surge 23 per cent but resources are short

Emergency calls to Queensland police for help for domestic violence have jumped 23 per cent in the past year amid concerns of a lack of resources to support LGBTQ victims, survivors and perpetrators.

Dec 08, 2023, updated Dec 11, 2023
New government data shows a 23 per cent jump in emergency calls for domestic and family violence (DFV) to Queensland Police between the 2022 and 2023 financial year compared to the same time in the previous year.

New government data shows a 23 per cent jump in emergency calls for domestic and family violence (DFV) to Queensland Police between the 2022 and 2023 financial year compared to the same time in the previous year.

There are “huge” gaps in support for LGBTQ+ victims and survivors with currently no perpetrator intervention programs in Queensland, according to an advocacy group.

LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation (LGBTQ DVAF) managing director Ben Bjarnesen, said significant investment is needed in appropriate support and programs.

“When we look at LGBTQ+ communities in particular, there is a huge gap in support available for victims and survivors,” Bjarnesen said.

“…There is no perpetrator intervention programs available for the LGBTQ+ communities in Queensland. We need to significantly invest in these communities to ensure the appropriate support and programs are available if we are to end DFV,’’ said Mr Bjarnesen who founded the organisation in 2020.

New government data shows a 23 per cent jump in emergency calls for domestic and family violence (DFV) to Queensland Police between the 2022 and 2023 financial year compared to the same time in the previous year.

More than 13,000 domestic violence protection orders were also made in the past year and 171,150 emergency calls made to police.

Last month Queensland’s Auditor-Geneal found Queensland Police has seen an increasing and changing demand for its services, including DFV and mental health.

” QPS is not meeting current demand for its services. While it attends most calls that require attention, it does not meet its response time targets for high-priority calls…In addition to growing demand, police deal with increasingly complex incidents…” the audit found.

Bjarnesen said raised awareness in the many forms of DVF can play a role in the increase of calls to police.

“Through education and awareness, victims and survivors may learn about the different types of abuse, the cycle of abuse and where they can get support,’’ he said.

There has also been a shift in bystanders’ behaviour where people are more empowered to stand up and say something “when they don’t see think something is right’’, Bjarnesen said.

“We cannot rely solely on government departments, police and support services to solve this problem. We all have a responsibility as individuals to do something if we are going to end domestic and family violence in our communities,’’ he said.

“Research indicates up to one in three DFV incidents are observed by a bystander. It’s quite common for abuse to be witnessed by others, he said.

“Despite this, a lot of people are not aware of what behaviours constitute domestic and family violence or what they can do to help.”

“You can help make a difference by ensuring that you are aware of what a healthy relationship looks like and what the signs of an unhealthy one may be.”

Resources such as relationship checklists, bystander toolkits and “Be There” app can help, he said.

“By showing your support, you could change their life in ways you can’t even imagine. You could even save one,’’ he said.

His comments follow the government’s annual Not Now Not Ever breakfast held Friday in Brisbane.

Keynote speaker and DFV survivor Angela Jordan said it was her daughter who encouraged her to contact authorities about the abuse her husband had inflicted upon her during their 40-year marriage.

At 18, Jordan married her husband, 14 years her senior, after they met in England where she had returned to live with her parents.

Over the next four decades he physically and sexually abused her as well as coercively controlled her. When they moved to Australia with their children, Angela said she found herself more isolated from family and friends.

He set up cameras to control her movements, held a gun to her head, and threatened to ensure Jordan lose custody  of their children after she asked for a divorce.

“I woke one morning to him standing over the top of me…he said to me, ‘when you were asleep, had my finger on your carotid artery. I would only have to leave there for 15 seconds and you’d be dead’,’’ she said.

It was not until Jordan’s eldest daughter returned home for Christmas in 2017, she realised the severity of the abuse.

“My daughter was supposed to return to work. She said would not leave me because her knew he was going to kill me. She said this is not normal mum,’’ Ms Jordan said.

With her daughter’s support, Ms Jordan contacted a local DVF centre and spoke with two support workers.

Angela Jordan (Image:supplied)

“We told them what had been happening and our concern he was going to murder me…the worker looked at me and said you’re a victim of domestic violence. “

Jordan said she broke down when she realised someone did believe her that her husband was really a monster unlike his public persona.

“(The worker wanted to flag our property and I didn’t want them to do that  because I was worried my husband would kill me if he found out. I was still protecting him,’’ she said.

A protection order against her husband was taken out in 2018.

Jordan said her abusive husband fled the country when served with the DVO and left her with more than a million dollars in debt.

In a bid to finalise her divorce, Jordan tracked her estranged husband tracked him down in Vanuatu. While there, her husband took his own life.

“At the time of his death, I found out he had written my eulogy and taken out a life insurance policy on me,’’ she said.

Since then Jordan has been diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and, Stockholm Syndrome – a psychological coping mechanism where a victim develops positive feelings towards their abuser or captors.

“What I really want to say to victims is to leave abusive relationships and seek help. If you stay, there is nothing there for you but pain. You’ve got choices ….and you’re going to have to work on yourself really hard but it’s worth it for what your life becomes,’’ she said.

 

 

 

 

 

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