Tamworth Family Support Service says domestic violence problems are bigger than they appear

BIGGER PROBLEM: Tanya Rogers from Tamworth Family Support Service new figures only show a minority of the issue. Photo: Gareth Gardner
BIGGER PROBLEM: Tanya Rogers from Tamworth Family Support Service new figures only show a minority of the issue. Photo: Gareth Gardner

SHOCKING figures revealing the amount of women hospitalised through domestic violence are only painting about one third of the picture, local services warn.

Tamworth Family Support Service domestic violence (DV) support worker Tanya Rogers said the organisation deals with about 350 crisis calls for help each month.

Ms Rogers said earlier intervention is key to stemming abuse and arming more people with skills to recognise signs of DV.

The glaring issue here is, these are the women that make it to hospital.

Roxanne McMurray

New statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) revealed 6500 Australian women were hospitalised due to assault, with the majority of injuries perpetrated by spouses and partners.

The report also showed eight per cent of women were pregnant at the time of assault.

“It’s just a drop in the ocean,” Ms Rogers said.

“Many of them don’t seek hospitalisation or medical treatment or they don’t disclose that the injuries have occurred through domestic violence.

“For those numbers to be accurate, they would need to be tripled.”

There are already examples of early intervention happening in Tamworth, Ms Rogers said, but the need for greater support is mounting.

“The stats are either going up because there are more instances of violence, or because there is more support, and more recognition in the community, that more people are starting to report it,” she said.

The national figures add “strong weight” to a recent proposal to the state government to establish a women’s health centre in Tamworth.

SOS Women’s Services created the proposal and spokesperson Roxanne McMurray said the AIHW figures highlighted the need for prevention clinics.

“The glaring issues here is, these are the women that make it to hospital, that’s when it’s at a crisis point,” she told The Leader.

“Prevention clinics are designed to get people who aren’t accessing crisis services.

“It’s estimated 50 to 60 per cent of victims never report to the police.”

The Tamworth women’s health centre proposal is seeking $1 million in funding per year and an estimated $430,000 in one-off set up costs from the state government