Culture

“This Country Is In Crisis”: Lisa Wilkinson And Carrie Bickmore Demand More Action On Domestic Violence

Three women have been killed in the past two days.

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This post discusses domestic violence.

The epidemic of domestic violence in Australia has been noted for some time now. With the nation giving well-deserved attention to the horrifying facts that one in three women suffer physical abuse in their lives, and one in five are victims of sexual assault, promising steps have been taken to help curb the problem.

Victoria is about to launch classes about respectful relationships in their schools and Queensland have introduced tougher penalties for perpetrators and set up a special court to deal solely in these matters, but progress is painfully slow. With a nationwide shortage of funding for both women’s refuges and counselling services, there’s still a lingering feeling that more can be done.

Though it’s a commonly quoted statistic that each week, one Australian women is killed by someone close to her, Destroy The Joint‘s tally has already counted 62 deaths this year. And, incredibly, three of these have been recorded in the past couple of days.

On Wednesday, a woman and a seven-year-old boy were found dead in their neighbour’s front yard in Sydney. Her son has since been charged with murder. Yesterday, a 24-year-old woman died in hospital on the Gold Coast after being rammed with a car and beaten. Her former partner has been charged. Just a couple of hours later, a woman was shot and killed in a Queensland McDonald’s. The man was known to her and he then turned the gun on himself.

What makes this even more distressing is that at least one of these women — 24-year-old mother Tara Brown — had first tried to get help. Last night on The Project, Carrie Bickmore investigated what more could have been done, with particular attention given to police response.

“How many more women have to die before we take these threats seriously?” she said. “[Our current] approaches might well lead to a long-term solution, but there are women who are suffering and dying now and we need to do far more to help them.”

Lisa Wilkinson from Today had similar thoughts on her Instagram yesterday, when sharing a picture of Tara Brown.

“Last Thursday in fear of her life, Tara had gone to police for help to leave her partner but was turned away and told to seek help elsewhere,” she wrote. “Tara’s death comes on a day when another thug in Queensland who bashed his girlfriend until she passed out walked free from court, while yet another man with a criminal history was allowed out on bail to kill mother-of-two Jodi Eaton, and as we mourn the death of a NSW grandmother and her seven-year-old grandson allegedly at the hands of her own son.”

“This country is in crisis. Real crisis. Domestic violence has reached epidemic proportions. And this is all happening against a backdrop of shelters being closed, and helplines losing funding. Please, don’t let Tara’s death — or all the hundreds of others we are losing in ever-greater numbers each and every year to domestic violence — just pass by unnoticed.”

“Let’s get ‪#‎TaraBrown‬ and ‪#‎StopViolenceAgainstWomen‬ trending. Let’s put REAL pressure on our politicians, our bureaucrats and a system that turns women like Tara — and her young daughter — away in their moment of greatest need.”

This comes four months after Wilkinson drilled Treasurer Joe Hockey in an interview about funding for women’s refuges and the national hotline, and she’s now looking just as determined. In a segment that aired on Today this morning, Wilkinson expanded on these points, direct to camera.

“We rely on a system that turns women like Tara and her young daughter away, in their moment of greatest need,” she said. “And the thing we know? It will happen again. And again. And again. But how many more women have to die before we do something?”

“As we know, the behaviour we walk past is the behaviour that we condone. And as we consider these 62 women and children who’ve lost their lives due to domestic violence, let us all consider what we as a nation can do to tackle this scourge on our society.”

If you or someone you know is impacted by family violence of any kind, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.