Confronting domestic violence figures revealed at march

Cobar residents took to the streets on Friday with a march as part of Reclaim the Night, which aims to raise awareness and provide support for domestic violence victims.

In June 2016 Cobar had the worst domestic violence (DV) repeat rate in the region at 33.8 per cent.

However thanks to a new NSW Police pilot program in the Darling River Local Area Command (LAC), that figure has now dropped.

The terrible statistic was revealed by Detective Inspector Rodney Grant, a domestic violence specialist officer with the Darling River LAC, who was a guest speaker at Cobar’s Reclaim the Night function on Friday.

At the event, which supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, Detective Inspector Grant spoke about how Operation Solidarity is working within the Darling River LAC to help lower DV statistics.

“Cobar has the worst domestic violence repeat rate in the Darling River Local Area Command,” he said.

“Most people say Bourke or Brewarrina, but it’s here and it’s amongst a very good community.

“If a good community like this can have domestic violence, and not just domestic violence but repeat domestic violence, there’s something gone wrong.”

A police officer of almost 33 years experience, Detective Inspector Grant said when he came into the job at the Darling River LAC 19 months ago, he gladly accepted the mission to make improvements in the area of DV incidents.

“People told me it couldn’t be done. Darling River LAC has the worst DV in NSW,” he said.

Detective Inspector Grant and his staff developed the Operation Solidarity pilot program which is designed to stop domestic violence and also to stop re-offending.

“It’s just not the cops, it’s other agencies, other non government agencies, coming together to do something about domestic violence,” Detective Inspector Grant explained.

He said the program takes a new approach to DV and is victim-focused.

As part of the program he said police will proactively engage with DV victims and help to find ways to get them out of the situation.

“It might be through a place like Centacare, to get some alternative housing,” he said.

“The police might go to the offender and ask what they can do to help them.

“Some people would say, ‘Just lock them up’ but sometimes there is a chance to intervene.”

He said in June 2016, Cobar had a repeat victim assault rate of 33.8 per cent, which means that a third of victims will be assaulted again within six months.

“I’m happy to say as of yesterday, that rate is 20.3 per cent,” Detective Inspector Grant said.

“It still sounds high, but in a bit over a year we’ve dropped it by 13 per cent.

“Our target is zero, but in reality, it’s about 12 or 13 percent which would be the best in the state and we’re on our way to that.

“If we keep dropping one per cent per month like we are, then we should achieve that next year.

“I’m hoping it’s tomorrow, but I have to be a realist.

“Not only has our repeat rate dropped, domestic violence in this command has dropped 25 per cent in 18 months, that’s the best in the state.

“We are starting to turn a corner,” he said.