Sickening domestic violence against babies
ONE moment, a five-month-old baby boy strapped into a stroller was living the simple life as most infants do, at a home in Sydney's west.
The next he was airborne, as a 21-year-old man allegedly picked up the pram with the child inside, and sent them flying across the room.
Emergency services were called to the home on Jersey Road, Hebersham, following reports a man and woman were fighting in a domestic violence incident, just after 2.30pm on Wednesday, June 20.
In a statement, a New South Wales Police spokesperson said authorities were told that during the argument the man allegedly picked up a stroller with the baby inside, and threw it, before leaving the scene.
NSW Ambulance paramedics treated the baby in the home before he was taken to The Children's Hospital Westmead. He sustained minor injuries.
The accused man was arrested nearby and taken back to Mount Druitt Police Station where he was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
He was granted conditional bail and is due to appear in Mt Druitt Local Court on 25 June 2018.
Earlier that day, about 28km away in the Sydney suburb of Dundas, a 27-year-old mother was arrested at a home in an unrelated incident which saw her newborn boy left with permanent disabilities.
The woman was charged with child neglect on Wednesday, June 20. It came after her seven-week-old son was taken to hospital in April suffering brain, eye and spinal injuries.
Nurses at The Children's Hospital at Westmead notified police after the seven-week-old boy was admitted in April suffering ongoing seizures.
Police allege the baby, who is now in the care of relatives, had been suffering seizures for at least 24 hours before she took him to hospital.
Detectives from State Crime Command's Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad established Strike Force Yarrabee to investigate how the child came to be injured.
The woman was taken to Granville Police Station and charged with not providing for child, causing danger of serious injury.
She was granted bail and is due to appear at Parramatta Local Court on July 17.
But the two alleged cases of young children being hurt in domestic violence incidents are not rare. According to The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN), child abuse and neglect are still two of the most significant social problems in Australia. Last year over 35,000 Australian children were proven to have been abused or neglected, the organisation says on its site.
NAPCAN spokeswoman Helen Fogarty told news.com.au that domestic violence was "a serious risk for children".
"Living with violence harms children, even when they aren't physically harmed, and even when they don't directly witness the abuse," she said.
"Babies and young children are at particular risk because they are inherently vulnerable.
"Sadly, however, these sorts of incidents will continue unless we take a whole of community responsibility for all children, and unless governments prioritise the investment in prevention, rather than simply responding to crises after they have occurred."
Australia's Health 2018 report, released on Wednesday, showed that half of women who have had children in their care while suffering domestic violence from a current partner said their kids had heard or seen the violence.
That figure increased to 68 per cent when at the hands of a former partner.
But the two alleged incidents involving babies in Sydney this week also come as conflicting new reports emerge about a decline of domestic violence in NSW.
In a report released on Wednesday, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found the rate of physical domestic and family violence dropped across NSW between 2008 and 2016, based on an analysis of survey data from crime victims and police records.
"Having more than one data source pointing to a reduction in the rate of (domestic and family violence) victimisation over the eight-year period examined increases our confidence that there has been a 'real' change in the prevalence of DFV in NSW," the report read.
Notably, the rate of domestic violence incidents occasioning grievous bodily harm fell 15.5 per cent between 2008 and 2016.
Despite a statewide decline, there are some areas in NSW that still have very high rates of domestic and family violence.
The state's far west and central north areas recorded more than double the rate of any other region, while the Sydney suburb of Blacktown had the highest rate among metropolitan areas.
The report noted, however, the reasons for the reduction are unclear. Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Pru Goward, said it was "wonderful" to see the apparent decline.
"There is always more work to do and we will continue to provide more support services and accommodation options for domestic and family violence victims," she said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the government announced a $44 million package over three years for initiatives targeting domestic violence reoffending.
• If you have concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. If you or someone you know needs help, contact: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) Lifeline 13 11 14.
- With wires