May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month and provides an opportunity for us all to send a message that violence will not be tolerated, to speak out against abuse, and to empower people to work together towards prevention.
To get a sense of the key role played by Police in preventing domestic violence, the Westender spoke with Jason Seymour, Acting Senior Sergeant in Charge at West End Police Station. Acting Senior Sergeant Seymour is also the DV liaison officer at West End Station.
While Police are on the front-line of responses to domestic violence, Acting Senior Sergeant Seymour said it is essential that Police and the community work together on support and prevention.
“The ‘Not now, not ever. Together’ campaign highlights the need for the police and the community to work together to put an end to domestic violence. We all have a role to play in putting an end to domestic violence in Queensland,” he said.
In response to the aims of the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month, Acting Senior Sergeant Seymour said that West End Police work closely with its Vulnerable Persons Unit to raise awareness of the impacts of domestic violence.
“Due to limitations caused by COVID-19 we are reaching out to the community via forums such as the Westender to help spread this message in the month of May.
“The QPS generally either organises or participates in numerous awareness raising activities during domestic violence awareness month. Unfortunately, with restrictions due to COVID-19, most of these events have been cancelled or postponed.
“The virtual candle lighting vigil took place on the 6th of May and on the 28th day of May it is the LGBTI domestic violence awareness day. People can also display a purple ribbon to show support for domestic violence awareness month’.
What DV prevention work is the QPS doing in West End?
“West End Police work hard at preventing domestic violence in the community. We offer support through linking people involved in incidents to our partner agencies to ensure ongoing support to give individuals the best chance of avoiding a similar situation in the future. West End police also regularly participate in events such as ‘coffee with a cop‘ which is a less formal setting where members of the public can approach police to discuss domestic violence matters.
“Advice and support given by police at these community events can provide people with the tools needed to prevent future incidents. I would encourage anyone that either suspects that someone known to them is the victim of domestic violence, or is a victim themselves, to reach out to police and seek help. If police are aware of an issue, we may be able to intervene before it escalates.”
We hear that some people are sometimes reluctant to contact Police. What is QPS doing to give people confidence that complaints will be dealt with fairly and thoroughly?
“The QPS and more specifically the West End police station, is committed to providing support and assistance to victims of domestic violence. By being transparent, open, and honest, police hope to build trust within the community so that people have the confidence to report incidents of domestic violence.
“If you are not happy with the outcome of an investigation, you can always attend the West End police station and the matter can be reviewed by either a supervisor or the officer in charge.
“Every station has a station domestic violence liaison officer. The domestic violence liaison officer reviews all domestic violence investigations to make sure they have been investigated appropriately.
“If West End police attend a domestic violence incident, we ensure that we offer support to all involved parties. Whether it be the victim of domestic violence or the perpetrator, police will offer support through our partner agencies. This will ensure that victims have access to the help and support they need and will also ensure that perpetrators have access to support networks with a view of changing their behaviour in the hope of preventing future incidents. Also, through our partner agencies, we can assist 24/7 with emergency accommodation should that need arise”.
Acting Senior Sergeant Seymour said that when investigating a domestic violence incident, the first aim of Police is to ensure that everyone is safe. With the agreement of the victim, the Police can contact Support link and refer their details for support and follow up.
When it comes to court proceedings, Acting Senior Sergeant Seymore said, the police prosecutor represents the aggrieved in court and puts forward the conditions that have been discussed with them, and makes recommendations to the magistrate on their behalf.
Policing breaches of court orders can be difficult Acting Senior Sergeant Seymour said, and it’s the role of the DV liaison officer to ensure alleged breaches are investigated thoroughly.
If people are worried about friends or neighbours and possible DV, what should they do?
“If you suspect that a friend or neighbour are the victim of domestic violence, then the most important thing that they need is your support. Your support may provide them with the encouragement to seek help and ensure their safety. Having a shoulder to cry on, someone to believe them and someone present to provide clarity and to let them know that they are not alone, and that help is available if they need it is very important. If any person is in immediate danger, 000 should be utilised.”
Following on from that, if I hear a fight in my neighbourhood that seems to be escalating, should I contact Police?
“Yes, you should 100% contact police in this situation. If the incident is happening now, contact triple zero. For all other domestic violence matters, phone us on 131 444 (PoliceLink) or attend your local police station or the matter can now be reported online via the PoliceLink site.”
Are West End police receiving more reports of DV since the COVID-19 shut-down?
“No, thankfully we haven’t really seen an increase in domestic violence in the West End police division since the COVID-19 shut down. This may be since we have less visitors to the area during the shut-down.”
How do victims contact Police when their violent partners are constantly monitoring their phones and movements?
“The eSafety Commissioner’s advice for domestic and family violence is a great resource for victims of domestic violence.
“This advice will assist victims in safeguarding themselves against technology facilitated abuse like people monitoring their movements and phones. However, if you still don’t feel safe to contact police via phone directly then reach out to a neighbour or a family member or friend to assist. Contact can now also be made with police via the online reporting forms on the PoliceLink website.”
Are any particular communities or individuals more at risk than others, e.g., if English is a second language, or where there might be reluctance to report such as LGBQI victims? How does QPS reach more vulnerable individuals?
“Domestic Violence doesn’t discriminate, however certainly there are sections of our community that feel they are either unable or unwilling to contact police. The QPS and more specifically West End police, work closely with partner organisations such as Micah Projects to reach out to vulnerable people to reassure them that police are willing and able to provide them with protection and support.
“Police also understand that it may be difficult for people within the community where English is a second language to report matters to police. We encourage these members of the community to contact us, we are a culturally diverse organisation. If one of our members can’t assist, then we will engage the services of an interpreter.
“West End Police also has a liaison officer who provides the link between the police and emergency services.
“The police also works with Micah Project’s Safer Lives which is a 24 /7 service to assist with emergency accommodation and welfare issues, including assisting children.”
E-Safety and Domestic Violence
Those who have questions about the use of electronic devices and the safety of women experiencing domestic violence, please see this link: https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/covid-19/advice-women-domestic-violence
Who to call for help?
In an emergency call the Police on Triple Zero (000).
For other support services call:
- DVConnect Womensline -1800 811 811
- DVConnect Mensline – 1800 600 636
- 1800RESPECT – 1800 737 732
For more information see HERE
- raise community awareness of domestic and family violence and its impacts.
- promote a clear message of no tolerance of domestic and family violence in Queensland communities.
- ensure those who are experiencing domestic and family violence know how to access help and support.
- encourage people who use abuse and/or violence to take responsibility for their abusive behaviour and seek support to change
Cover image of Acting Senior Sergeant Jason Seymour supplied.