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Support groups say the Gold Coast has become a hotspot for increasingly violent crimes against women.
Domestic Violence Prevention Centre CEO Rosie O’Malley said nearly a quarter of the state’s domestic and family violence orders were recorded in the Gold Coast region in recent years, in an area that is only home to about 10 per cent of the state’s population.
She said more than 6500 women had sought domestic violence support on the Gold Coast in the past year.
“Here on the Gold Coast, between [Southport court], Beenleigh court and Coolangatta court, we do 23 per cent of the state’s domestic violence orders,” she said.
“It’s very prevalent.”
Violence against women growing
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman told Parliament on Wednesday that violence against women surged during coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.
“Every death from domestic and family violence is unacceptable and a tragedy,” Ms Fentiman said.
“During the pandemic, almost one in 10 women in a relationship in this country experienced domestic and family violence, with two thirds saying the violence started or escalated during lockdowns. Enough is enough.”
Domestic violence information tabled in State Parliament by the Queensland Police Service (QPS) has highlighted the growing number of high-level domestic violence charges on the Gold Coast.
The city had also recorded the highest number of strangulation charges in Queensland.
From 2018 to 2020, more than 510 charges were laid by QPS in relation to choking, strangulation and suffocation complaints in a domestic setting.
The second-highest number of those offences was recorded in Logan, south of Brisbane, where 287 charges were laid over three years.
‘We’re talking about high-level violence’
Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence director Di Macleod said reporting of sexual violence on the Gold Coast had increased for both recent and past abuse.
“I’ve been here for 30 years as the founder of this service and what we are seeing is an increase in the intensity of the violence that women are experiencing,” Ms Macleod said.
“The violence that these perpetrators are carrying out, we are talking about high-level violence.”
Ms Macleod said earlier this year her staff had received a dozen requests for help in a single day.
“Twelve new women come forward to the service wanting to engage in support and counselling,” she said.
“The counsellors see five women for individual counselling, each of the counsellors see five women every day.”
“We can’t do any more – we have a waiting list.”
She said the service has had to employ additional staff to meet demand.
‘Women and children are still dying’
Ms O’Malley said the Gold Coast had a chilling history of women being killed by men.
“The gaps are still there, women and children are still dying,” she said.
“We just had the first anniversary of Hannah [Clarke] and her children, [and] Doreen [Langham] up at Logan not that long ago.”
Four women died at the hands of an ex-partner on the Gold Coast in 2015.
Fabiana Palhares was bludgeoned to death with an axe and stomped on by her ex-partner and father of her unborn child at her Varsity Lakes home.
Tara Brown was beaten to death with a fire hydrant by her ex-partner while she was trapped in her car at Molendinar.
Karina Lock was shot dead in public at a Helensvale fast food outlet.
Melinda Horner was killed in a murder-suicide in Burleigh Waters.
Ms O’Malley said language about domestic violence offenders “just snapping” needed to change.
“It would be very rare that [the offender] is a psychopath or just snapped,” she said.
“DV is a pattern behaviour and happens over a long time.”
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