Mr Assistant Speaker, I congratulate you on your appointment. I start today by expressing my deepest condolences to the family of Ms Dokhotaru and the family of the young boy from Riverwood. I cannot even begin to comprehend what they must be feeling at this moment. They are terrible and tragic incidents, and I am saddened to say that those heartbreaking deaths are not the first and nor will they be the last. I tell this House in plain terms that we have reached a crisis point. The rates of domestic and family violence in our community are alarming. There is absolutely no doubt that there is a domestic and family violence crisis in this State and in this country. Domestic and family violence is one of the most under-reported crimes in our community. The connection between the perpetrator and the victim and the long-term, often familial or spousal relationship that exists makes it difficult for victims to come forward. Even though those crimes continue to occur behind closed doors, sadly they are so entrenched and prevalent in our community.
During my short two months on the job as police Minister, I have been getting out and about and speaking with the 22,000-strong membership of the NSW Police Force. During the visits police officers on the ground have told me time and again that domestic and family violence is the number one issue for the police in their community. The member for Wyong is here. He and I know only too well that is exactly the same conversation we are having with our district in Tuggerah Lakes. Police officers are responding to the equivalent of one call every four minutes. We must remember that combatting domestic and family violence is the responsibility of us all and not just at a time of crisis. The NSW Police Force is there in that time of crisis, but we need to solve this problem before it even comes to police intervention. We cannot arrest our way out of this problem. It starts way before then.
Police officers play an important role in combatting domestic and family violence, but so do the health, education and community sectors. This is a complex social problem. Healthy relationships, education about consent and respect, intervention for children and young people who are victims of violence, and making the community aware of how it can report incidents of domestic and family violence are just a few things we need to look at more closely. We must do better in the Parliament, in our community, in our families and in our homes.
I take the time to thank police officers across our State. Officers in our local districts and commands are recognised for the difficult work they do every day, responding to calls for assistance where domestic and family violence is occurring. Domestic and family violence is not a problem to be swept under the carpet and dealt with behind closed doors. Something is seriously wrong in our society when there is so much violence and cruelty towards so many women. Until we fix people's attitudes, domestic violence will remain a serious scourge in our community. We will not solve this crisis until we work together on the solution, and the police will be at the table.