DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DOWN, SEXUAL ASSAULT REPORTS UP IN NEWCASTLE

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Newly released New South Wales crime data shows that while domestic violence in Newcastle has reduced slightly in the past year, reports of sexual assaults have climbed to the highest levels in years.

Federal Member for Newcastle and Chair of Federal Labor’s Status of Women Committee, Sharon Claydon said that while it was heartening to see the numbers of reported domestic violence assaults had reduced in the past year, addressing domestic and family violence remains an urgent priority.

“Nationally, domestic violence is the leading cause of death of women aged 15 to 44. Last year, 49 women died through an act of violence by someone known to them. This year, 14 women have already lost their lives,” Ms Claydon said.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction that Newcastle reported the lowest number of domestic violence assaults in the past five years, but the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region is still higher than the state average.

“The situation is even worse for our neighbours in the Hunter, which recorded a rate of domestic violence 1.4 times the state average.

“We also need to remember these are just the number of reported cases, when we know that the actual incidence of domestic violence is far greater.”

Ms Claydon said domestic violence consistently rated as the single most important issue in Labor’s recent nationwide series of consultations on gender policy.

“A few years ago there was some real bipartisan momentum to address the scourge of domestic violence, but I fear the political will in the Turnbull Government for action has diminished significantly,” Ms Claydon said.  

“Labor has already committed to investing $88 million in a Safe Housing Fund for women fleeing domestic violence. We will also ensure that ten days’ domestic violence leave is enshrined in the National Employment Standards and work with the States and Territories to set a family and domestic violence reduction target to guide the Fourth National Action Plan.”

Ms Claydon said that while most crimes trended down, the data also revealed the highest number of reported sexual assaults in many years.

“The number of reported sexual assaults in Newcastle climbed more than 20 per cent between 2016 and 2017 alone,” Ms Claydon said.

“This reflects an upward trend state wide with highest rate of reported sexual assaults in New South Wales since 1990 – partly as a result of reporting of historical child sex offences,” Ms Claydon said.

“As the Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Commonwealth Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse, I will be holding the Government to account every step of the way on its implementation of this important program.

“We also need to ensure there is adequate funding for support and prevention services for all survivors of sexual assault.”

If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

*** If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000” ***

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Authorised by Sharon Claydon MP, 427 Hunter Street Newcastle