Northern Rivers’ violence order breaches the worst in the state
BREACHES of domestic violence enforcement orders (AVOs) on the Northern Rivers are far worse than the rest of the state.
In the year to September 2014, the rate of AVO breaches per 100,000 people on the Northern Rivers was 227, versus the state average of 178.
Tweed and Richmond Valley local government areas fared the worst, with Tweed Shire seeing breaches rise by 30% every year over the past three years. The figures have prompted local experts to lament "flaws" in the system, arguing it doesn't do enough to support victims.
Lismore family lawyer Aniko Papp said the figures were only the tip of the iceberg because most went unreported.
"I sometimes have to convince (victims) to go to the police; they often say to me 'I'm frightened, if I report it he'll bash me; he'll get me and all they'll do is find my body'," she said.
Ms Papp said it was hard for police to prosecute alleged breaches of AVOs, and perpetrators knew that.
Former domestic violence case manager Beth Shelley said it could be very difficult to get an AVO. Ms Shelly said one client needed an AVO renewed before her husband was released from jail for assaulting her, but because there were no incidents reported over a certain period (while he was in jail), she was sent back and forth between police and the courts.
But local police say they are succeeding in reducing the number of repeat victims.
Richmond LAC crime manager Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay said the rate of repeat victims to domestic violence had fallen from above 20% to about 13% in the last year.
"The vast majority of times when the police take action and the matter is placed before the court, the violence stops," he said.
Det Insp Lindsay said AVOs provided a "very good tool" in trying to prevent the violence but conceded many breaches went unreported.
"There are absolute tragic circumstances where offenders continue to use violence, and sometimes extreme violence where deaths occur," he said. "Thankfully that doesn't happen often and our figures show we are reducing repeat victims."
Tweed: 274.6 per 100,000 people (244 breaches)
Richmond Valley: 273.1 per 100,000 people (62 breaches)
Lismore 224.8 (100 breaches)
Ballina 197.5 (81 breaches)
Kyogle 189.0 (18 breaches)
Byron 174.4 (54 breaches)