NSW police are changing how they respond to domestic violence

MOVING FORWARD: Albury Senior Constable Debra Milnes and Chief Inspector Kim Sorensen welcome new initiatives to tackle domestic violence. Picture: MARK JESSER
MOVING FORWARD: Albury Senior Constable Debra Milnes and Chief Inspector Kim Sorensen welcome new initiatives to tackle domestic violence. Picture: MARK JESSER

NSW police are re-thinking their response to family violence and Albury is at the forefront of those changes.

Clinics to prepare victims for court and high-risk offender teams who seek out and target top-tier perpetrators are among the new initiatives. 

Senior Constable Debra Milnes has been with the force for 11 years, the majority of that time within the family violence unit, and considers the new approach a significant shift.

“It’s about victim support, perpetrator accountability and community awareness,” she said.

“We’ve got the domestic violence safety assessment tool that was rolled out in September, which assesses every victim and places them at risk or at serious risk.

“We have a fortnightly meeting with all the services around the table and we tell them what we know.

“We might have a family that has nowhere to live, and someone will say ‘I have a spot that’s become available’.

“At the next meeting, we see how we went, and if we have addressed everything we can we step away and their name comes off the list.”

Albury police can also issue apprehended violence orders on the spot, and order the suspected offender to stay or accompany them to the police station so the order can be served.

They are also using video to record family violence call-outs, which Senior Constable Milnes said is having a major impact.

“We record the smashed glass on the floor and her injuries firsthand – which is quite confronting when you watch it, compared to a hand-written statement,” she said.

“We can take that straight to court and there’s been an increase in the pleas of guilty because of the magnitude of those recordings.”

Campaigns from the NSW police force will soon be aired on television and to conduct her own awareness-raising, Senior Constable Milnes has been holding meet-and-greet sessions with the community.

“People aren’t going to come forward if they feel they are alone, because it’s very lonely,” she said.

“It’s about trying to increase the reporting in the community.”

A session will be held from 1pm to 3pm at the youth cafe in QEII Square on Tuesday and Saturday, and from 4pm to 5.30pm at Glenecho Neighbourhood House on Thursday.