Storm players celebrate after scoring a try during the NRL grand final 2017. Police are bracing themselves for a spike in family violence this grand final weekend.
Storm players celebrate after scoring a try during the NRL grand final 2017. Police are bracing themselves for a spike in family violence this grand final weekend. MICK TSIKAS

The ugly side of grand final euphoria


GRAND final weekends are generally great fun as teams and their fans go head to head in the final battle to claim the ultimate victory for the season.

But not everyone looks forward to this weekend or are to prepared to deal with its uglier facets.

Incidents of family violence spike on grand final days and police in Victoria are already bracing for the 20 per cent increase they anticipate after Saturday's AFL clash which makes you think it will be much the same on Sunday for NSW police after the rugby league grand final.

A recent campaign in England brought this relatively unspoken phenomenon to the mainstream when it released a graphic image of a woman's bloodied face during the recent World Cup, her injury forming the shape of the English flag. A powerful statement that was shared and talked about around the world.

The confronting image was to highlight the country's brutal figures that showed incidents of domestic violence increased by 26 per cent when England played, rising to 38 per cent when they lost.

Here in Australia, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton has said that apart from New Year's Even where there's a 50 per cent increase in incidents, the night of the grand final was their busiest and the worst of the year for family violence across their state.

Mr Ashton told radio station 3AW this week that police were called to a family violence incident "every seven minutes" and "on grand final [day] there's about a 20 per cent increase on a normal night."

"You can see, it's a really significant increase. It's one of our biggest nights of the year," he told 3AW.

He said increased drug and alcohol consumption, a surge in gambling and people watching the game at home in close proximity to others with emotions running high were all contributing factors to a rise in violence.

"Families that don't often get together, get together on those occasions, and issues can surface with a bit of help from the alcohol and family violence is what flows," Mr Ashton said.

Data released from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in June, spanning six years from 2012 to 2017, indicated a 40.7 per cent average increase in domestic violence, and 71.8 per cent in non-domestic assaults across NSW on State of Origin game days.

While we want the best team to win and the enjoy the entertainment that plays out on the sporting battlefield, bringing that battle into the domestic environment is not on and needs to be acknowledged and deemed unacceptable by sporting codes in the lead up their big days.

It may detract from one of Australia's biggest weekend in sport but these kinds of figures can't continue to be ignored for the sake of the game.

Family violence support services:

  • 1800 Respect national helpline 1800 737 732
  • Women's Crisis Line 1800 811 811
  • Men's Referral Service 1300 766 491
  • Lifeline (24 hour crisis line) 131 114
  • Relationships Australia 1300 364 277

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