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Locals rally for an end to domestic violence in the Kimberley

Giovanni Torre -

The Ochre Ribbon March was held in Broome over the weekend to raise awareness of the high rates of family and domestic violence in Western Australia's Kimberley region.

In December the region had the worst family assaults figures out of any policing district in the state, with the total number of incidents rising from 410 in November to 453 in December, the worst month of 2023. The number of charges laid for family-related threatening behaviour also increased from 100 to 121, according to WA Police data.

The Kimberley Land Council said it was proud to support the Ochre Ribbon March, which organisers described as an event to shine a light on the high rates of family and domestic violence and pay respects to victims and survivors..

The KLC noted that Ochre Ribbon Week (12-19 February), a campaign by Aboriginal Family Legal Services, aims to raise awareness of the devastating impacts of family violence in Aboriginal communities and is a "call for action to end the violence".

The land council urged those who are experiencing family violence, or knows someone who is, to seek help as soon as possible via 13YARN (for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people), 13 92 76, https://www.13yarn.org.au/ , or 1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732.

KLC member and local community leader Anthony Watson called the march "a call for leadership" and noted that "strong men" have a role to play in stamping out violence.

Image: Kimberley Land council

Broome's Aboriginal Family Legal Service chairperson Rowena Puertollano told the ABC that the accessibility of alcohol and drugs played a role in the violence rates.

"We need to speak up and we need to have these conversations and direct people who need help to these agencies," she said.

The national broadcaster also reported that WA's Department of Communities has no yet appointed a tender for Broome's One Stop Hub for Family and Domestic Violence, which was originally planned to be operational in early 2024.

Plans to establish a $5.5 million specialist family and domestic violence court in Broome in mid-2023 have also been delayed.

Image: Kimberley Land Council.

Broome's AnglicareWA service manager Francesca Quayle told the ABC that violence rates in the Kimberley were "unacceptably high" and more resources were required.

"There are fewer services than there could be in this area. We are constantly seeking future funding and expansion of services," she said.

"Probably the biggest need is crisis response. Very few of us [organisations] are actually funded to deliver that and we just don't have the resources."

Image: Kimberley Land Council.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, released earlier this month, shows there was a 13 per cent increase in FDV-related offences in Western Australia from 2022–23 with 81 per cent of offenders identified as men.

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