More than 250 calls for help came in to Women’s Health West from domestic violence victims and via police referrals in the first five days of this year.
That’s 50 calls a day and more than two calls every hour.
And Women’s Health West (WHW) family violence services manager Jacky Tucker expects the number to grow to more than 1000 police referrals and 500 women calling for help by the end of this month.
While January is the organisation’s peak month, 1500 calls would be unprecedented, putting pressure on already-stretched staff and services to keep up with demand.
Last January, the organisation received 771 police referrals and 371 calls from domestic violence victims.
“In the lead-up to Christmas, you’ve used a lot of money, the kids are around, everything’s heightened, people are together, so there’s a lot more tension,” Ms Tucker said.
“Violence … is more than likely to happen during this time of the year. It’s nearly a guarantee that perpetrators will perpetrate during Christmas.”
During December, WHW received 974 police referrals and 447 calls from women experiencing domestic violence.
Ms Tucker said the trend of increased calls and demands for services during December and January would continue.
“To even try to make a first phone call to the 974 women is extremely hard,” Ms Tucker said. “We’re still responding to incidents from December in January.
“We’re just trying to catch up with the backlog and at least be able to speak to the women and offer them support.”
While she said increased reporting of domestic violence was a “good thing” as victims were feeling more confident to speak to authorities, Ms Tucker said it was now “evident how endemic family violence is in our community”.
There needs to be generational change, a 30-year-plan to tackle domestic violence, and more funding, Ms Tucker said. She hopes the state government will respond quickly to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.