Cases such as Queensland man Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder of his wife and the death of Luke Batty in Victoria at the hands of his father rocked the nation, sparking public conversation and reminding us that as an active member of any community, domestic violence is everyone’s business. These dreadful cases also highlighted the profound impact domestic violence has on a community and the life sentence it gives to families.
We as a society are making progress in this space, but we need to do more and we need to keep the momentum going.
We need better statistics and data collection, we need a better understanding of what domestic violence actually is, and we need to change the way we think about it.
There are huge gaps and inconsistencies in the way domestic violence statistics are collected and recorded between states and territories.
Part of this inconsistency relates to the fact there is no single definition of what domestic violence is. For example, in most states a wide range of relationships is included under domestic violence legislation such as spouses, de facto partners, children, stepchildren, the child of a de facto partner, and anyone else who is regarded as a relative.
In Tasmania, the reporting of domestic violence is based solely on the context of a spouse or de facto partner relationship, and in South Australia domestic violence is only reported if the spouse or “domestic partner” resides with the abuser.
Then there’s emotional and economic abuse such as harassment, stalking and financial control, which often goes unreported because of the absence of physical evidence. While I think there is growing recognition that domestic violence is not just physical, there is just too much violence and abuse that goes unreported.
Better statistics and data collection would lead to a better understanding and awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence.
Prevalence is a key word here because people need to understand that domestic violence doesn’t discriminate, no matter your age, gender, suburb or background. Whether it is a baby being shaken or the forceful use of an older person’s finances, it is still domestic violence.
Increased awareness and understanding feeds into education, which will help us break down misinformation and stigmas attached to domestic violence.
We need to be sending a clear message that domestic violence in all its forms will not be tolerated. We need to move away from the notion that violence between partners or within families is somehow a private matter or “family” matter and therefore deemed acceptable.
Domestic violence is everyone’s business, because it is still on the rise. In 2015, 80 women lost their lives to domestic violence. Last year, 71 women died, and 22 women have died so far this year. That’s more than one woman every week and it’s simply unacceptable.
These women are our mothers, grandmothers, aunties, daughters, sisters, neighbours and colleagues and we owe them real action.
I’m incredibly proud of the strong platform Labor took to the last federal election to eradicate domestic violence and of the commitments we’ve made and the actions we’ve taken since.
The Liberals keep saying they’re serious about ending domestic violence, but the withdrawal of funding for essential services to help women escape abusive relationships only exacerbates the problem.
If rhetoric was all we needed we’d be there already.
Generating awareness and understanding and changing our attitudes are vital. But the real test is whether we live up to our rhetoric and match our good intentions and words with resources and action.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger please phone 000. For sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling services phone 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
This article was written by Helen Polley who is a Labor senator for Tasmania.
The article was copied from here.