Non-government organisations are praising a partnership with police that is helping to combat domestic and family violence for high-risk victims. Centacare practitioners are being placed in targeted police stations to ensure their expertise is available in a timely and responsive way for victims. The State Government-funded PRADO program – ‘Partnership Response at Domestic Violence Occurrence’ – began as a pilot in Caboolture in 2010 and has since been rolled out to other parts of the state. Centacare provides frontline workers to police stations in Maroochydore and Gympie in a collaborative case management model. Police refer victims to a qualified, trained domestic and family violence practitioner who undertakes risk assessment, safety planning, counselling and referrals.
“This is really exciting. Systems working together bring success,” Centacare’s Brigitte McLennan said.
“We have seen quick responses and timely solutions to problems. The Centacare worker and police work together and offer assistance to a victim. We can assess what the victim needs to be safe, whether it’s getting out, getting a protection order, contacting someone because they haven’t been allowed to use a phone.”
The insight into the behavioural traits of domestic violence perpetrators has added another layer of understanding to some domestic violence situations.
“A lot of the stories have familiarities. For instance, why does a pregnant woman stay with a perpetrator who has hospitalised her?” Ms McLennan said.
“Maybe she’s isolated from her family so support is important. And he may seem as though he’s her only support and she has hopes that the baby may be a new start for them as a couple. Each situation is different but some of the elements are the same.”
The PRADO program has been generally praised for its proactive impact on police response to domestic and family violence. The partnership between police and non-government organisations extends to the court system, particularly in the domestic violence court where police can apply for orders against aggressors. On the Sunshine Coast, the domestic violence court moves on weekdays between Caloundra, Maroochydore, Nambour, Gympie and Noosa. The interaction between police, court personnel and Centacare is seen as a key element in the smooth running of the courts, which often bring together couples at the most stressful moments of their relationships.