BALLARAT residents rightfully should be concerned about significant increases in crime reporting yesterday in the annual figures released by Victoria Police.
Most notably, family violence is quickly becoming the number one priority for law enforcement and community service organisations.
Almost 10,000 more family incident reports were filed last year than in the preceding 12 months across the state.
It is not all bad news on this front – family violence has in the past been a hidden scourge, often unreported by the victims.
According to Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, there has been a massive 288 per cent jump in reporting of family violence incidents in the past 10 years, while non-family violence crime rose by one per cent during the same period.
It is only now that the real impact of these offences can be truly quantified. Getting back to the basics of how we perceive the roles of men and women in society is required to break the ugly cycle which is now being exposed. So many of the pressures associated with conforming to traditional roles has exacerbated the domestic violence problem.
While many great steps have been taken in recent years to educate people about reporting domestic violence, we need to take a further step back to educate community members about why it is not acceptable. It will be a community approach, not solely more stringent enforcement which will solve this problem.
Mr Lay yesterday said the overall figures showed an increase in the crime rate for the first time in more than a decade.
This is not good news for the Baillieu government, which was elected with a mandate to put more resources and funding into crime prevention and community safety.
At face value, it has been a success, including in Ballarat where the introduction of CCTV and more police officers on the beat has created a positive message about the government’s commitment to its election promises.
The stats, though, tell another story and that is that considerably more work is required.
Mr Lay says he is disappointed by the result. So will be the community.
With parliament sitting in Ballarat this week, we look forward to the response from the government.