PORT Stephens police and a domestic violence support service are calling on families to reach out for help if pressure caused by the festive season is reaching breaking point.
“This time of year is when people get themselves into debt which leads to arguments or some form of domestic violence,” Senior Constable Holloway said.
“Alcohol is an associated fact in many cases of domestic violence.”
In December 2014 there were 21 incidents of domestic violence-related assault in Port Stephens and 27 in January 2015, according to NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
The figures are some of the lowest from the past 10 years. Assaults stemming from domestic violence during December and January range from the high 20s to the low 30s.
December 2012 and January 2013 had some of the highest reported incidents of domestic violence-related assaults since 2005.
There were 34 assaults in the December and 35 in January.
The numbers, while worrying, do not surprise Ann Fletcher from Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services.
In the past six months 245 people have been placed on a waiting list to receive counselling and support from the service.
“All year we have had a constant stream of people presenting to us and domestic violence is very much a part of their story,” Ms Fletcher said.
“Financial pressure is the thing we’re seeing the most; there’s a lot of people ringing to say they don’t have enough money to get them through to Christmas. We’ve had great demand on our emergency relief program lately.”
The family and neighbourhood service, based in Raymond Terrace, will be closed from Christmas Eve to January 4 and operating with a skeleton staff until January 11. The Yacaaba Centre, at Nelson Bay, is also closed.
However, there is still help available for those seeking food or counselling.
Medowie Assembly of God, the Food War in Raymond Terrace, St John’s Anglican Church parish pantry, the Salvation Army and OzHarvest all have food programs and are available to contact.
For counselling phone MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78, Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For emergency accommodation phone Link2Home on 1800 152 152.