By Bonny Burrows
Family violence experts have revealed that they are making about 20 to 30 assessments each night as they announce that their service is to be extended to cover Casey and Cardinia.
Dandenong’s $10 million multi-disciplinary family violence centre houses specialist police, counsellors, child protection workers and health professions in the areas of family and sexual support from its secret location.
And an expansion of the centre’s forensics laboratory will mean victims will be able to receive medical examination onsite instead of attending a hospital, in a move police hope will encourage women and children experiencing violence to come forward.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said on Friday that the addition of Cardinia and Casey family violence teams would help provide more “comprehensive support” for the rising number of victims across Melbourne’s south-east suburbs.
The minister said the region had experienced a 17 per cent increase in family violence incidents in recent times.
“Victims and survivors of family violence will no longer be made to tell their story over and over thanks to this centre in Dandenong,” Ms Neville said.
“It’s a one-stop support destination for women and children experiencing family violence.”
A remote witness facility will also see, in special circumstances, victims of both sexual offences and family violence to provide evidence to court via video instead of in person.
“It’s about keeping our women and children safe,” Ms Neville said.
Victoria Police Family Violence Command Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter said the state’s four multi-disciplinary centres were allowing police to deal with family violence and child abuse issues more quickly.
“The reason that these facilities have been so successful is at the core very simple- when agencies come together in one location they community and collaborate in a more timely and open way,” Assistant Commissioner McWhirter said.
AC McWhirter said while family violence was still on the rise, Dandenong was leading the way in tackling the issue.
“We are really pleased to be able to lead these initiatives and are impressed with the enthusiasm of agencies to work with us to improve outcomes for victims,” he said.
“As a sector, there is no doubt we are all absolutely committed to doing what we can to improve support and outcomes for the victims of these horrific crimes.”