Trial for family violence plan

Alicia PereraPilbara News
A domestic violence prevention program developed by Roebourne police, led by officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Gemma Hennigan, pictured, will be piloted in several other Pilbara towns in coming months.
Camera IconA domestic violence prevention program developed by Roebourne police, led by officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Gemma Hennigan, pictured, will be piloted in several other Pilbara towns in coming months. Credit: Pilbara News, Tom Zaunmayr

High rates of family and domestic violence in the Pilbara will be the focus of a new preventive program to be trialled in several towns next financial year under a Pilbara district police plan to counter the scourge.

Domestic violence reports have been consistently rising in the overall Pilbara district this financial year and are up about 45 per cent on the same time last year.

However Roebourne Police Station, where officers have been using a customised model focused on early intervention and close collaboration with community agencies for about a year, is the only sub-district station to have recorded a decrease, prompting Pilbara District Police to develop a pilot program based on that format.

The new program is planned to be trialled in several Pilbara towns in coming months before possibly being rolled out in other parts of the region if successful.

Pilbara district police Superintendent Paul Coombes said the program would be tailored to each location through evidence-based policing.

He said family and domestic violence was a police priority in the region and the results of Roebourne police’s work held promise for other towns.

Roebourne has had a consistent reduction in family and domestic violence numbers over the last financial year and is now 8 per per cent down on the same time last year.

In 2016, the station won a WA Police award for its work countering domestic assaults.

Roebourne police officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Gemma Hennigan said officers had developed the model in collaboration with Karratha police family protection co-ordinator Cindy Morgan last May to address worryingly high levels of domestic violence in their area.

“I wanted to do something different out here because our domestic violence was just unacceptable for our community,” she said.

‘We collaborated about what that might be and then we researched the issue.”

“Though it is more work, it stops more work down the track, so if you can get on top of it before it happens, the better.”

Issuing police orders requiring the maximum 72-hour separation time between victims and perpetrators, giving police more time to conduct frequent welfare checks and getting victims’ help with community services are the main features of the Roebourne model.

Sen. Sgt Hennigan welcomed it being piloted in other Pilbara towns. “I think (residents) understand now when we come out that we take domestic violence very seriously and we’re serious about helping people,” she said.

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