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Standing up for domestic violence survivors: award highlights Mercy Community’s groundbreaking program

Put your hands together for Mercy Community’s Angela Pritchard.

In recognition of her dedication and commitment to the prevention of domestic violence, our star Domestic and Family Violence Coordination Lead, has been awarded a Safe and Together Champion Award for Excellence in Systems Change.

The award follows Angela’s outstanding work in the launch of Mercy Community’s groundbreaking pilot program, which closed the gap between prison release and access to community behaviour reform programs – increasing the safety and wellbeing of domestic violence survivors and their children.

Under the current system it can take up to two weeks for someone to be assessed and accepted onto a suitable program following a custodial sentence, and during that time a perpetrator can resort to violence again.

However, the three-month pilot found that by assessing people for a community program prior to release from prison we are able to interrupt their opportunities to cause further harm.

The project involved the collaboration and effort of 10 agencies and organisations, including the Safe and Together Institute – an international leader in domestic abuse learning.

Angela received the award at the organisation’s Asia Pacific Conference in Melbourne.

Jackie Wruck, Asia Pacific Regional Manager at the Safe and Together Institute, said Angela had demonstrated exceptional abilities in implementing and coordinating the pilot program.

 “Angela’s ability to recognise a gap in the confines of systems she works within and then build an integrated service response to bridge that gap is outstanding,” she said.

“Using the Safe and Together model framework and language, Angela was able to break down the siloed practices happening in the region to create a collaborative practice that enabled positive change for practitioners and service users.

Angela Pritchard, DFV Coordination Lead at Mercy Community, received the Safe and Together Champion Award for Excellence in Systems Change.

“Systems change is vital to impacting the way we improve our practice and responses to create safety for adult and child survivors.

“The more safety, stability and nurturance we can create, the better it is for our families.

“Thank you, Angela for your dedication and hard work – you truly are a champion of change.”

This is the second award for Mercy Community’s pilot program, which was honoured by Queensland Police Service in November last year.

Angela said the latest award highlighted the great work Mercy Community and the Moreton Bay service system was doing in domestic violence prevention.

“Receiving the Safe and Together Champion Award is truly humbling, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in our community,” she said.

“None of this would have been possible without the dedication and support of the rest of the team, whose tireless efforts and unwavering commitment have been instrumental in driving positive change.

“Together, we are making strides towards creating a safer and more supportive environment for survivors of domestic violence.”

Domestic and family violence prevention month

Each May, Queensland marks Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month (DFVP Month) to raise community awareness of domestic and family violence (DFV) and to send a clear message that DFV in families and homes will not be tolerated.

Despite the work that goes on to prevent DFV, the statistics are still too high.

According to the latest figures, in 2022–23, there were 99,932 defendants nationally with at least one FDV-related offence.

Of these defendants:

  • Most (94% or 94,023 defendants) were heard in the Magistrates’ Courts
  • Four in five were male (80% or 80,195 defendants)
  • The median age of defendants was 36 years 

In 2022–23, the most common offences for FDV defendants were:

  • Assault – 41% (or 41,379 defendants)
  • Breach of violence order – 39% (or 38,760)
  • Stalking, harassment or threatening behaviour – 10% (or 9,885)
  • Property damage – 7% (or 7,285)

Court outcomes

Of the 83,603 FDV defendants receiving a court judgement, most (94% or 78,259) had a guilty outcome. For these defendants:

  • A fine was the most common sentence (25% or 19,559)
  • 19% (15,033) were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution
  • 19% (14,872) were sentenced to an order of good behaviour

In Queensland

There were 22,931 defendants with at least one FDV offence in Queensland courts in 2022–23.

The most common principal offence was a breach of violence order (74% or 16,933), and most FDV defendants were male (83% or 18,972).

The majority of defendants who received a court judgement had a guilty outcome (99% or 20,623). Of these guilty defendants:

  • 33% (6,872 defendants) received a fine
  • 25% (5,233) were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution
  • 17% (3,418) were sentenced to a moderate penalty in the community 

Help is available.

Speak with someone today:

Domestic violence helplines | Queensland Government (www.qld.gov.au)

For more information on Mercy Community’s domestic violence services please visit:

Domestic Violence Systems Coordination (Moreton Bay) or

Women’s Wellness Centre (Toowoomba and Greater Downs)

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