Coffs-Clarence Police Superintendent Steve Clarke in front of one of two Busways buses with signage to help spread the message to say 'No' to domestic violence in the Clarence Valley. Photo Bill North / The Daily Examiner
Coffs-Clarence Police Superintendent Steve Clarke in front of one of two Busways buses with signage to help spread the message to say 'No' to domestic violence in the Clarence Valley. Photo Bill North / The Daily Examiner

SAY NO: Domestic violence on police radar

FOR the next six months the message that “Clarence Valley says no to domestic violence” will be in the community’s face.

Restrictions on events due to the COVID-19 pandemic gave the Clarence Valley Domestic and Family Violence Committee an opportunity to get creative in how they raised awareness, gaining support for public bus signage in Grafton and Yamba for a six-month period.

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, Coffs-Clarence Police Superintendent Steve Clarke and NSW Police Force regional domestic violence co-ordinator Kiah Bowen with representatives of the Clarence Valley Domestic Violence Committee, Coffs-Clarence Police, Corrective Services NSW, Clarence Valley Council, Police Youth Command, Maclean Services Club, Grafton District Services Club, Bowlo Sport &
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, Coffs-Clarence Police Superintendent Steve Clarke and NSW Police Force regional domestic violence co-ordinator Kiah Bowen with representatives of the Clarence Valley Domestic Violence Committee, Coffs-Clarence Police, Corrective Services NSW, Clarence Valley Council, Police Youth Command, Maclean Services Club, Grafton District Services Club, Bowlo Sport &

“Whenever there is major community trauma, what we find is there is an increase in domestic violence, people’s coping strategies seem to dissipate even further,” committee chairperson Tracey Poynter said.

“Following the hfires when there was severe community trauma, we saw an increase in domestic violence, and straight onto the tail of that was COVID where people were locked in, and it has had quite a significant impact on the Clarence Valley.”

Coffs-Clarence Police District Commander Superintendent Steve Clarke hoped the messages on the two es help reinforce to the community that the local police take domestic violence seriously.

“We will support our victims and we want our victims to come forward and report these matters,” Supt Clarke said. “So that not only can we address them and follow through with the perpetrators who are doing the wrong thing, but we can get them in touch with the various support agencies to give them the support they need.

“Anecdotally, we’re forever hearing there are things happening out there that for one reason or another are not being reported. So part of this strategy is about encouraging our victims, most of whom - 99.8 per cent or thereabouts - are females, to have the strength to come forward.

“There are support agencies out there, and the police will take you seriously.

“It’s really important to all the men out there who read this, we need to stand up for the women out there, we need to step in and act if we see something going on because this sort of behaviour is simply not on.

“Of recent timees there has been some escalation of domestic violence incidents so it is important as a community to say we don’t accept this sort of behaviour and to do something about it.”

The Clarence Valley Domestic and Family Violence Committee is made up of representatives from several community services including Centrelink, Grafton Police, CRANES and Clarence Valley Women’s Refuge, as well as NSW Police Force Northern Region regional domestic violence co-ordinator Kiah Bowen, who oversees 28 domestic violence committees from the Tweed to Taree, and has played a major role in the campaign.

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SHATTER THE SILENCE: Coffee cups for DV awareness during COVID

The committee’s main focus is to raise the issue of domestic violence, working with the variety of services represented on the committee.

“Every year we try to do something different to raise awareness of domestic violence in our community,” Ms Poynter said.

“The committee got together and we talked about getting a sign on the bus, and we applied for a Clubs Grant.”

The application was successful and Grafton District Services Club, Maclean Bowling Club and Bowlo Sport & Leisure Yamba all contributed to the funding of the project.

Coffs-Clarence Police Superintendent Steve Clarke and NSW Police Force regional domestic violence co-ordinator Kiah Bowen are leading a campaign to help spread the message to say 'No' to domestic violence in the Clarence Valley. Photo Bill North / The Daily Examiner
Coffs-Clarence Police Superintendent Steve Clarke and NSW Police Force regional domestic violence co-ordinator Kiah Bowen are leading a campaign to help spread the message to say 'No' to domestic violence in the Clarence Valley. Photo Bill North / The Daily Examiner

“The Clarence Valley DV committee pulled this artwork together with the support of some local clubs,” Ms Bowen said.

“Despite being a really small DV committee, they’re very active and very proud of all the stuff they’ve managed to pull out - particularly during the COVID period - for domestic violence awareness.

Every year the group holds a variety of events during the internationally-recognised 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence from November 25.

In Australia, an average of one woman a week is killed by a current or former partner.

On White Ribbon Day on November 20, men and women across Australia are encouraged to wear a white ribbon to demonstrate their support for the White Ribbon Campaign to stop violence against women.

SAY NO TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 000 for Police and Ambulance help.
  • For access to 24/7 counselling and support call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. This 24-hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line is for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.


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