FORUM FOR CHANGE: Politicians, on the ground workers and community members met to discuss violence issues at a forum last Thursday.
FORUM FOR CHANGE: Politicians, on the ground workers and community members met to discuss violence issues at a forum last Thursday. Matthew Purcell

Growth in violence stats

VIOLENCE in Stanthorpe and surrounding areas continues to be a mounting problem, with a forum held last Thursday to discuss a path forward.

LNP Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Ros Bates joined a room full of local workers to discuss the issues on the ground in Stanthorpe.

She took time to discuss domestic violence, sexual violence and child safety and spoke of her concern at rising statistics in the region.

A record 964 Darling Downs offenders thumbed their noses at domestic violence orders in 2016/17, according to Queensland Police statistics.

Victims are being left exposed and at risk under a failing system according to the Shadow Minister.

"Two and a half years of a do-nothing Palaszczuk Labor Government have seen breaches of domestic violence orders on the Darling Downs increase more than 30 percent from 741 in 2014/15 to 964 in 2016/17,” Ms Bates said.

"I have said it before and I will say it again, protection orders are not worth the paper they are written on if offenders continually ignore them.

"In the Darling Downs region since 2015 there has been 971 sex crimes reported.

"This October is sexual violence awareness month right across Queensland so I'm just raising the issue.

"Domestic violence is very prevalent but domestic violence goes hand in hand with sexual violence. Violence doesn't stop outside the bedroom door,” she said.

With funding at a premium and a severe lack of accommodation for people escaping violence in Stanthorpe, Ms Bates said other methods needed to be looked at - one being greater support from the private sector.

"If Shannon Fentiman (Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence) got out of her ivory tower and air conditioned limousine and travelled from Brisbane here to Stanthorpe she would know what the issues are here,” she said.

Former Stanthorpe and Southern Downs councillor and community worker Denise Ingram is a trusted face in the community with a background of assisting at risk children and people escaping violence.

She said she had seen Stanthorpe grow as a community and become better at discussing issues of violence.

"Being able to escape from domestic violence is not easy, taking out an AVO against perpetrators is still only a piece of paper.

"The police here are wonderful in trying to maintain those orders but often the nature of violence is that the person doesn't stop being afraid.

"I think we're doing our best to get it out there and I think there is a better awareness in the wider community and our own community that violence isn't okay.

"We're doing better but it's a long battle,” Ms Ingram said.

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