Family violence in the southeast is “chronic”, the head of the region’s family violence police division says.
Acting Senior Sergeant Graeme Stanley oversees three units covering Casey, Cardinia and Greater Dandenong aiming to reduce family violence incidents.
“Our family violence unit continually monitors recidivist offenders and their victims to make sure they’re all protected,” Sen-Sgt Stanley said.
“It’s sometimes as simple as a phone call to the victims to make sure everything is okay.
“But when children are involved, DHS (Department of Human Services) come into place and we make sure the children are protected as well.”
Sen-Sgt Stanley said low income and mental health issues were contributing factors to family violence.
“It has been shown the pressure of owning a home and meeting their obligations do cause stress within the family unit and sometimes that stress extends out to violence against partners and children,” he said.
“The other contributing factor is mental health.
“Depression can be caused by not being able to meet the commitments.”
Sen-Sgt Stanley said domestic abuse came in many forms.
“It’s wrong to always use the word violence, but there is a whole range of things perpetrators do that aren’t ‘violent’,” he said.
“Deprivation of liberty, deprivation of money control and what they wear all break down the spirit of somebody and can eventually lead to a life of violence.”
Domestic Violence Victoria told Leader police had attended 6891 domestic violence call-outs in thesouthern metropolitan region of Casey, Cardinia and Greater Dandenong during 2012-13.
Of these, Casey accounted for more than half, with 3461 incidents.
Cardinia had 1186 calls while Greater Dandenong had 2244.
Last week the coalition government announced Relationships Australia Victoria would receive $401,000 over the next four years to expand voluntary men’s behaviour change programs in southeast Melbourne.
South Eastern Metropolitan state Liberal MP Inga Peulich said the funding was vital for the area.
“With family or domestic violence being one of the highest legal issues in the area, this type of preventive program is invaluable to local residents,” Mrs Peulich said.
*Heavy Metal’s big heart
DAVID Nugent has spent the past eight years changing the mentality of violent men in the southeast.
Mr Nugent, 52, of Berwick, created the Heavy Metal Group, which helps men who have been violent to their families to turn their lives around.
“It’s a huge issue in the area because of the growth corridor out this way with new homes,” Mr Nugent said.
“Instead of crucifying them, we want them to learn how to deal with these conflicts, stress and pressure.
“There is a myth in our society that family violence only happens to a certain class of people but that’s not true.”
The Heavy Metal Group runs a 40-week program, which requires them to sign an agreement. If broken, Department of Human Services is notified.
“Our service isn’t a quick fix because you can’t change these ingrained behaviours,” he said.
“If I get a concern that the man will breach the signed contract, he’ll know I’ll report it and other services will get involved.
“It’s about being transparent and upfront with them, saying if you want to change, you love your partner or you love your wife and children, prove it to me.”
Mr Nugent knows first-hand the devastating impact of family violence.
As a child he watched his father regularly beat his mother.
As an adult his own temper ended his first marriage.
It wasn’t until his second wife told him she’d “had enough” that Mr Nugent addressed his abusive behaviour with counselling.
“I understand exactly what they are going through,” he said.
For a confidential interview, contact Mr Nugent on 0401 766 877.