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  • Keegan Thomson

Tackling an issue by talking about it

PENRITH has been talking about domestic violence and it is all for a special reason.

November 25 marked the beginning of 16 days of national action to help stop the relentless and needless violence that kills hundreds of Australian women each year.

To help start the conversation a forum was organised by the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District. The forum featured a panel of local faces and front line workers helping to stop the scourge.

Heading the forum was Dr Maria Nittis from the Forensic Medical Unit based at Nepean hospital, Natasha McGing a local social worker, Nepean hospital ambassador Mark ‘MG’ Geyer and Detective Chief Inspector Grant Healey from the Penrith local area command.

According to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research there were 1037 reported incidents of domestic violence across Penrith in the 2015/16 financial year. Mark Geyer looked physically shaken when he responded to these stats.

“I feel well out of my depth here,” MG said. “This isn’t the Penrith that I know and love, and it makes me sad to hear this.”

“It blows my mind that there might be someone down the street, might be someone next door even, who is bashing their spouse,” he said.

When asked about the stats DCI Healey said Penrith has a higher rate of domestic violence assaults because of two reasons.

“One of the reasons why we have these numbers is because of the socio-economic situations of a lot of people here in Penrith,” DCI Healey said.

He said in other wealthier areas offenders might abuse their partners by controlling their finances and social behaviours but in lower socio-economic areas the“skill-set”ofanabuserinvolvesmorephysicaland violent means.

“Another reason why we have a larger number of reported assaults is because people are more open in Penrith, we often talk to one and other,” he said. “If we see or hear about someone bashing their missus then we speak up and make sure they know that it isn’t ok.”

He said if we want to change mentalities towards domestic violence then we need to speak up.

“If your mate is belting their partner and you know that it is wrong then you need to speak up because mates don’t let mates bash their missus,” DCI Healey said. Before the forum Dr Maria Nittis spoke to Nepean News about the importance of having a forensic unit at Nepean hospital.

“We document the injuries, we have doctors and nurses who have forensic training so they can take the time to document even the minor injuries, and then we can write an expert certificate with photos so that we can help the judge and the court understand these injuries,” Dr Nittis said.

“When we did some research on our patients we found those who’d seen us at the Forensic Media Unit, when the case went to trial, there were more convictions and better outcomes for the victims,” she said.

The 16 days of change ends on Saturday December 10.

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