On the 24th of May, an ABC news report told Australia that 21 women had been killed in 21 weeks by an intimate partner.
My guess is that you’d gasp and think ‘how horrible, that must be in another country.’
You’d be wrong.
This is in Australia. This happened in 2020. In Australia.
In February 2020, the Senate established an inquiry into domestic violence with particular regard to violence against women and their children. This was chaired by the Honourable Kim Carr, with Senators Amanda Stoker, Anthony Chisholm, Nita Green, Claire Chandler and Nick McKim as members. The participating member was Sen. Rex Patrick. (Four men, three women and none from the Liberal National Party).
The Terms of Reference were clear; to inform itself of past reviews then examine where the domestic violence policies, programs and services needed improving. A full reappraisal of the current environment, successes and failures, services provided and services in need were required.
The committee was to report back by the 13th of August 2020. You’ll note now that we’re nearly in July and yet, this inquiry was wound up three months ahead of schedule and without seeking a single submission and without holding a single hearing.
This inquiry was a farce, even though it found: ‘Two in five Australians believe that domestic violence is a normal reaction to stress and sometimes a woman can make a man so angry he hits her without meaning to.’
‘Two in five Australians believe that women make up false reports of sexual assault in order to punish men.’
To me just those two findings would have been enough to realise Australia is in the midst of a domestic and family violence crisis. And yet, there were no recommendations by this committee on how to change our culture or help inform and support the community.
The introduction and background of the report states: ‘Every two minutes police are called to a domestic and family violence matter. Every day 12 women are hospitalised due to domestic and family violence. Every nine days, a woman is killed by a current or former partner. The overall economic cost of violence against women and their children in 2015-16 was $26 billion with victims bearing approx. 50% of that cost.’
Senator Rex Patrick’s recommendation on the inquiry was “The committee should take a long hard look at itself and then resolve to bring a motion to the Senate that would direct it to revisit the issues and do the job properly on the second pass.”
Yes, a thousand yeses from me.
However, does anyone see a problem here? This inquiry is focusing just on women and their children. No men as victims or women as perpetrators.
A breakdown in between city and country areas wasn’t researched or reported on either and anyone who lives in the country knows we have different challenges when people experience DFV in regional, rural and remote areas.
This inquiry was a disgrace.
How do we change the culture within Australia? How do we inform, educate and most importantly teach that every human deserves respect and if you respect your fellow human, then instantly DFV would be a thing of the past?
These statistics hurt my heart so much and is part of the reason I founded Breaking the Silence (www.breakingthesilence.com.au). We have 16 WA country towns on the website, showing what DFV services are available in these towns. Our counselling services are scheduled to start by September 2020.
Please help us to say no to domestic and family violence in your town, by speaking up, watching and not letting any type of abuse be hidden.
We must not let men, women and children continue to become statistics.
We must create change.