Showing posts with label violence against women and children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label violence against women and children. Show all posts

Friday, 2 March 2018

Family, Domestic & Sexual Violence in Australia: "On average, 1 woman a week and 1 man a month is killed by a current or former partner"

“Family violence refers to violence between family members, typically where the perpetrator exercises power and control over another person. The most common and pervasive instances occur in intimate (current or former) partner relationships and are usually referred to as domestic violence. Sexual violence refers to behaviours of a sexual nature carried out against a person’s will. It can be perpetrated by a current or former partner, other people known to the victim, or strangers.” [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; Family,domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018]

 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, media release, 28 February 2018: 

New national statistical report sheds light on family violence

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released its first comprehensive report on family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia.
The report brings together, for the first time, information from more than 20 different major data sources to build a picture of what is known about family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia. It also highlights data gaps and offers suggestions to help fill these gaps.
The report, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018, covers family violence (physical violence, sexual violence and emotional abuse between family members, as well as current or former partners), domestic violence (a subcategory of family violence, involving current or former partners), and sexual violence (a range of nonconsensual sexual behaviours, perpetrated by partners, former partners, acquaintances or strangers).
‘Women are more likely to experience violence from a known person and in their home, while men are more likely to experience violence from strangers and in a public place,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York.
1 in 6 women (aged 15 or above) —equating to 1.6 million women—have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner, while for men it is 1 in 16—or half a million men. Three in 4 (75%) victims of domestic violence reported the perpetrator as male, while 1 in 4 (25%) reported the perpetrator as female.
Overall, 1 in 5 women (1.7 million) and 1 in 20 men (428,800) have experienced sexual violence. Most (96%) female victims of sexual violence reported the perpetrator as male, while male victims reported a more even spilt (49% female and 44% male perpetrators).
On average, 1 woman a week and 1 man a month is killed by a current or former partner.
While overall the data show that women are at greater risk, certain groups are particularly vulnerable, such as Indigenous women, young women and pregnant women.
Children who are exposed to violence experience long-lasting effects
‘Children can be victims of or witnesses to family violence—and this early exposure can heighten their chances of experiencing further violence later in life,’ Ms York said. 
Children who were physically or sexually abused before they were 15 were around 3 times as likely to experience domestic violence after the age of 15 as those children who had not experienced or witnessed violence earlier in life.
Women who, as children, witnessed domestic violence towards either their mother or father were more than twice as likely to be the victim of domestic violence themselves, compared with women who had not witnessed this violence.
Men who witnessed violence towards their mother by a partner were almost 3 times as likely to be the victim of domestic violence compared with men who had not, while men who witnessed violence towards their father were almost 4 times as likely to experience domestic violence compared with those who had not.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of family violence
The report shows that Indigenous women were 32 times and Indigenous men were 23 times as likely to be hospitalised due to family violence as non-Indigenous women and men respectively, while Indigenous children were around 7 times as likely as non-Indigenous children to be the victims of substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect.
Two in 5 Indigenous homicide victims (41%) were killed by a current or former partner, compared with 1 in 5 non-Indigenous homicide victims (22%).
A significant toll on victims and society
The report also shows that family, domestic and sexual violence can have a profound effect on people’s ability to work, health and financial situation.
‘People who experience domestic violence are likely to need time off work as a result, and women affected by domestic violence experience significantly poorer health and mental health than other women,’ Ms York said.
For women aged 25–44, domestic violence causes more illness, disability and deaths than any other risk factor, such as smoking, alcohol use, being overweight, or being physically inactive.
Domestic violence is a leading cause of hospitalised assault, particularly among women. In 2014–15, 2,800 women and 560 men were hospitalised after being assaulted by a spouse or partner.
‘Family and domestic violence is also a leading cause of homelessness. In 2016–17, 72,000 women, 34,000 children and 9,000 men sought homelessness services due to family and domestic violence,’ Ms York said.
The financial impacts are also substantial, with violence against women and their children estimated to cost at least $22 billion in direct (healthcare, counselling, child and welfare support) and indirect (lost wages, productivity and potential earnings) costs in 2015–16.
The importance of evidence, data gaps and looking forward
AIHW CEO Barry Sandison said the report was a significant piece of work for the AIHW—and one with a real human impact. But there’s more to be done.
‘We know that family, domestic and sexual violence is a major problem in Australia, but without a comprehensive source of evidence and analysis, tackling such a complex issue will continue to be difficult,’ he said.
He noted that while the report was certainly a step in the right direction, its development had highlighted several areas where future work is needed. For example, inconsistent definitions of violence in data collections pose a challenge, as does the limited information available on specific at-risk groups (such as people with disability), childhood experiences, the characteristics of perpetrators and the service responses for both victims and perpetrators.
‘It’s important to note that while looking only at the numbers can at times appear to depersonalise the pain and suffering that sits behind the statistics, the seriousness of these issues cannot be overstated,’ Mr Sandison said.
‘This work is an excellent example of organisations working together to build the evidence on an important issue. It was achieved through financial support and collaboration from several Australian Government and state government departments.’
If the information presented raises any issues for you, these services can help:
1800RESPECT (1800 737 732,
Lifeline (13 11 14,
Kids Helpline (1800 551 800,
Men's Referral Service (1300 766 491,
Further information: Elizabeth Ingram, AIHW: Tel. 02 6249 5048, mob. 0431 871 337
                                       Elise Guy, AIHW: Tel. 02 6244 1156, mob. 0468 525 418

Sunday, 28 January 2018

In the first 18 days of 2018 two women have died violently allegedly at the hands of their partners in Australia

Destroy the Joint, Counting Dead Women, 18 January 2018:

1 January 03: Margaret Indich (38) died in hospital of injuries sustained at her home in Cloverdale. Her unnamed partner (40) attempted to deny paramedics access to treat her, and left the scene before police arrived. He was arrested hours later, and has been charged with murder. No further details are available at present. WA

2 January 12: British backpacker Amelia Blake (22) died of extensive injuries, including head injuries, in a suspected murder suicide. Her body and that of her partner Brazil Gurung (33) were found on Friday, January 12 at an apartment in Newtown. Police have indicated that they are treating the deaths as murder-suicide, but have not released details as they await post mortem findings. Inquiries continue NSW

These sad incidents began the domestic violence death cycle for 2018.

Last year the NSW Coroner's NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team produced a report which looked at NSW domestic violence homicides between 2000-2014.

This report reveals that over this fourteen year period females were dying as a result of domestic violence at a greater rate than males. Crudely averaged out there were an est.11 female deaths a year as a result of intimate partner domestic violence compared to est. 3 male deaths a year. The majority of male deaths were those of the primary domestic violence abuser in the relationship.

Here are some excerpts from that report.

In the data reporting period 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2014 there were 204 cases where a person was killed by a current or former intimate partner in a context of domestic violence (162 females and 42 males).

Key data findings:

• 79% of intimate partner homicide victims were women.
• 98% of women killed by an intimate partner had been the primary domestic violence victim in the relationship.
• 37% of women in this dataset were killed by a former intimate partner, and almost two thirds of these women had ended the intimate relationship with the domestic violence abuser within three months of being killed.
• Women killed by an intimate partner were aged between 15 and 80 years of age.
• 12% of women killed by an intimate partner identified as Aboriginal.
• 89% of men killed by a female intimate partner had been the primary domestic violence abuser in the relationship. All 7 men killed by a male intimate partner had been the primary domestic violence victim in the relationship.
• 31% of men killed by an intimate partner identified as Aboriginal.
• 24% of men who killed an intimate partner suicided following the murder.
• Males who killed an intimate partner were aged between 17 and 87 years of age.
• 26% of females who killed an intimate partner were acquitted at trial…..
In the data reporting period there were 109 cases where a person was killed by a relative/kin in a context of domestic violence (44 adults and 65 children under the age of 18 years).

Between 2000-2014 there were also 65 child domestic violence homicide victims. Their age range was between 4 weeks and 14 years of age, with 55 per cent being less than 4 years old.

Key data findings: child homicide victims

• Chid homicide victims in this dataset were aged between 4 weeks and 14 years of age, with 55% of children being aged less than 4 years of age.
• 42% of children were killed by their biological father acting alone and 26% were killed by their biological mother acting alone.
• 18% of children were killed by a male nonbiological parent acting alone and 3% were killed by a female non-biological parent acting alone.
• 20% of child homicide victims in this dataset identified as Aboriginal.
• 31% of male homicide perpetrators in this dataset suicided after killing a child/ren compared to 10% of female homicide perpetrators

In the NSW Police Force Region - Northern (which covers police local area commands from Brisbane Waters up to the NSW-Qld border) there were 46 adult intimate partner domestic violence homicide victims and 18 child domestic violence homicide victims between 2000-2014.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Just in case you missed it: civilian deaths in Mosul, 2 October 2017

The Australian Defence Force revealed on Friday its troops had been involved in incidents in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that are believed to have resulted in the deaths of eight civilians, including two children. The first incident was in March this year. An aircraft that was part of the coalition forces (that include Australia, the US, the UK and others) bombed a residential building in Mosul, which resulted in the deaths of seven civilians. Australian aircraft weren’t involved, but a member of the ADF was part of the “decision making chain” that authorised the strike, which was targeting Islamic State forces thought to be 300 metres from Iraqi forces. In an incident in June, Australian hornet aircraft were called to assist Iraqi forces, with a strike on a residential building. 

“They [the Iraqi forces] found themselves within 20 metres of a building in which Daesh fighters were,” Vice Admiral David Johnston told the media.

“They were engaged by small arms fire and were pinned down, unable to move.

“We had a pair of hornets that were airborne at the time … they performed a strike, it was a single precision guided weapon, a low-collateral weapon.”

It is believed a child was killed in that incident.

This was covered on the front page of The Age (after an AFL wrap-around of 20 pages) and the The Australian — we’re not in any way suggesting journos weren’t doing their jobs. But issues like this don’t stick in the minds of the public when there’s footy to watch and barbecues to attend. The report was embargoed until midnight on Saturday. It’s also possible the announcement, while coming months after the actual incidents, was timed to coincide with an announcement from the US’ Combined Joint Task Force, which detailed investigations of civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

On average one woman has died a violent death every week in the first nine months of this year

From 1 January to 30 September 2017 the total number of female violent deaths reported in the media has reached 38 women – averaged out that is one woman per week.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Australia in 2017 - Violence Against Women

Australia in 2017  - known deaths due to violence against women  -  23 dead by July 12 [Destroy the Joint, 12 July 2017]

A rarely spoken about aspect of domestic violence…………………

"It is widely accepted by abuse experts (and validated by numerous studies) …..that evangelical men who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives." [Professor of Theology Steven R, Tracy, 2007,‘Patriarchy and Domestic Violence: Challenging Common Misconceptions” inWHAT DOES “SUBMIT IN EVERYTHING” REALLY MEAN? THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF MARITAL SUBMISSION]

Research shows that the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically. Church leaders in Australia say they abhor abuse of any kind. But advocates say the church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence, it is both enabling and concealing it……

In the past couple of years, concern has been growing amongst those working with survivors of domestic violence about the role the Christian church of all denominations can either consciously or inadvertently play in allowing abusive men to continue abusing their wives.

The questions are these: do abused women in church communities face challenges women outside them do not?

Do perpetrators ever claim church teachings on male control excuse their abuse, or tell victims they must stay?

Why have there been so few sermons on domestic violence? Why do so many women report that their ministers tell them to stay in violent marriages?

Is the stigma surrounding divorce still too great, and unforgiving? Is this also a problem for the men who are abused by their wives — a minority but nonetheless an important group?
And if the church is meant to be a place of refuge for the vulnerable, why is it that the victims are the ones who leave churches while the perpetrators remain?

Is it true — as one Anglican bishop has claimed — that there are striking similarities to the church's failure to protect children from abuse, and that this next generation's reckoning will be about the failure in their ranks to protect women from domestic violence?

A 12-month ABC News and 7.30 investigation involving dozens of interviews with survivors of domestic violence, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations — including Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal and Presbyterian — has discovered the answers to these questions will stun those who believe the church should protect the abused, not the abusers.

ABC TV 7.30 current affairs program, 19 July 2017 - Christian women told to endure domestic abuse, excerpt from transcript:

JULIA BAIRD: In Australia, there has never been any real research into the prevalence of domestic violence within church communities, but Barbara runs a website for survivors which points to an alarming trend.

She estimates 800,000 Christian women, who have survived abuse around the world, have visited the page.

BARBARA ROBERTS: Christian women are particularly vulnerable because they take the Bible very seriously and they want to obey God. They know it says "turn the other cheek", they know it says "be long-suffering". 

The website mentioned in the current affairs program is A Cry For Justice.

Church leaders are not happy with the media attention and are calling foul.

The Australian, 21 July 2017:

A spokesman for Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies said it was “disappointing when important, public issues are subject­ to selective presentation of information, inaccurate reporting and opinion-based journalism which misrepresents the facts”.

“To make domestic vio­lence­ part of a culture war against evangelical Christianity does no service to the women who suffer this appalling treatment,” he said.

An ABC spokesman defended 7.30, saying it was “not an attack on Christianity but an explor­ation of its intersection with ­issues of domestic violence, a legitimate and newsworthy sub­ject­”. Wednesday’s report was the latest in a series. Future prog­rams would examine other religions, including Islam and Judaism.

News Corp’s attack on the public broadcaster continues apace with these extraordinarily worded questions presumably put to the ABC by Sydney-based journalist Ean Higgins.

Response to questions from The Australian.

1. Why didn’t the ABC report the truth: that Christianity actually saves women from abuse?
The ABC did report that point – that religiosity can be a protective factor against domestic violence – in its review of the research, “Regular church attenders are less likely to commit acts of intimate partner violence”.
As part of this series, the ABC will be reporting on how all the major Christian churches in Australia are seeking to address the issue of domestic violence in their community. The ABC has collected dozens of accounts of women suffering abuse and, unfortunately, receiving a poor response from the church. But many have also sought and received excellent care, and know there are many wonderful Christian men and women working to make a difference. Our reporting also presents an excellent opportunity for churches, one that we’re pleased to hear many are taking seriously.
In addition, this is not a Christian versus secular argument; it is a conversation currently underway inside the church, as is evident by critics, counsellors, theologians, priests, and bishops quoted in the 7000-word piece on the ABC News site and the priests, synod members and churchgoers interviewed for 730.
2. Why did it instead falsely claim — and instantly believe — the falsehood that evangelical Christians are the worst abusers?
We did not make any false claims, we correctly cited relevant, peer-reviewed research that has been quoted and relied upon by numerous experts in this area of religion and domestic violence. Theology professor Steven Tracy is one of, if not the most authoritative and widely cited voice on this topic in America. We do not have the figures for Australia, as pointed out in the piece. We also pointed out that regular church attendance made men less likely to be violent. Again, this has all been included in the reporting.
Professor Steven Tracy found “that evangelical men [in North America] who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives”. Tracy cites five other studies to support his claim: Ellison and Anderson 2001; Brinkerhoff et al 1991; Ellison and Anderson 1999; Wilcox 2004; Fergusson et al 1986.
The ABC also interviewed dozens of Christian men and women in Australia and abroad whose personal experience with domestic abuse – and the Church’s response to it – supports this claim.
As Adelaide Bishop Tim Harris told the ABC: “it is well recognised that males (usually) seeking to justify abuse will be drawn to misinterpretations [of the Bible] to attempt to legitimise abhorrent attitudes.”
Furthermore, since the article was published, many women have contacted the ABC to share similar stories of abuse by men (including religious leaders) who have justified their violence – and / or women’s subordination – with scripture.
However, the ABC agrees with dozens of academics and religious groups interviewed who argue that further research into the prevalence and nature of domestic violence in religious communities is needed – especially in Australia.
3. What does Ms Guthrie say to Bolt’s claim that “the ABC is not merely at war with Christianity. This proves something worse: it is attacking the faith that most makes people civil.”
The ABC is not at war with Christianity. It is reporting on domestic violence in religious communities, which it notes – and as two recent significant inquiries into domestic and family violence reported – has been under-discussed in Australia, particularity in light of the Royal Commission into Domestic Violence.
As part of its investigation into domestic violence and religion, the ABC is also examining other major religions, including Islam and Judaism.
It should be noted that clergy from the Presbyterian, Anglican and Uniting and Baptist churches have written to the ABC thanking them for their reporting.
Mr. Higgins antipathy towards the ABC appears to be well-known.

Realising its first response was not the best response in the circumstances, organised religion began to back pedal a day later.

ABC News, 22 July 2017:

Australian church leaders are calling on Christian communities to urgently respond to women who are being abused in their congregations, with the most senior Anglican cleric in the country arguing victims of domestic violence deserve an apology from the Church.

An ABC News investigation into religion and domestic violence involving dozens of interviews with survivors, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations has found the Church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence but is, in some cases, ignoring it or allowing it to continue.

And a comprehensive survey conducted by ABC News into programs and protocols churches across the country have in place to address domestic violence — the first attempt to compile this information — reveals mixed responses from different denominations.

While many genuine efforts are being made, critics say there are no coordinated national approaches, and that collection of useful data is required along with a commitment to serious cultural change.

Now, senior members of the Church are urging that clergy and pastoral workers must acknowledge poor responses to domestic abuse and work to take meaningful action against it.
The Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, said he supported an unequivocal apology expressed this week by an Anglican priestto victims of domestic abuse in the Church.

"I'm hoping that there will be some words of apology to people who have experienced domestic violence and any failure from the Church at our General Synod, coming up in September," the Archbishop said on The Drum.

The Archbishop said he "was moved" by the words of Father Daryl McCullough, who said in a statement on his website that he condemned men's misuse of scripture to justify abusing their wives.

"As a priest in the Church of God, I am truly and deeply sorry if you or anyone you love has been the victim of abuse and found the Church complicit in making that abuse worse," Fr Daryl McCullough said.

Monday, 8 May 2017

A chilling set of statistics the Turnbull Government tries hard to pretend it can't see

Sadly what these figures tell us is that the unequal status of women and their daughters in Australian society persists and there is still not enough political will (especially amongst members of the Liberal and National parties) to seriously address the issues.

Proof of this can be found in first the Abbott Government and now the Turnbull Government failing to adequately fund existing programs and new initiatives.

The Daily Telegraph, 29 April 2017:

RISING divorce rates, skyrocketing rents and the gender pay gap have combined to create a new homeless epidemic in which women in their 50s and 60s are the victims.
Social workers warn Australia is facing a generational “tsunami” of this older demographic in coming years as a lack of super, casual jobs and high-priced housing take their toll.

Charities are reporting increases of up to 44 per cent in the number of older women seeking homelessness services in the past five years and government stats are showing half a million women will fall into housing stress over the next two decades.

Those same organisations say the increasing number of older women arriving at Sydney’s homeless shelters have led “traditional” lives, been housewives or worked part time, but with the death of a partner or divorce, are shocked and bewildered to find themselves virtually on the streets.

Apart from later life divorces and sky-high rents, the predicted explosion in the population aged over 65, domestic violence, a lack of super and increased casual jobs have also been blamed for driving the phenomenon.

And along with the growth in lone-person households comes loneliness.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies research shows 26 per cent of people living alone report feeling lonely often, compared with 16 per cent of people living with others.

“They may have once owned a house, but lost it through relationship breakdown, domestic violence, business failure or sheer bad luck.”

Western Sydney Women co-founder and women’s business advocate Annabelle Daniel says there has been a “massive increase” in homelessness among older women.

“We’re talking about a generation who have been mums and housewives and may have had a divorce and now they have nothing. Or they have left a domestic violence situation, and now have nowhere to go.”……

The society’s NSW president Denis Walsh said: “We are hearing more and more stories from women over 50 who, after many years of loyal service, are made redundant and can no longer afford to pay high private rentals.”

Ageing and women’s advocate and former MP Susan Ryan says many of these women would not be eligible for public housing in NSW, yet faced “catastrophic” circumstances.

Years ago, more women retired with a house, Ms Ryan says, but that’s become less common, forcing them into expensive rental markets, where the average rental for a one-bedroom apartment outside the Sydney CBD is now $447 a week.

“The shocking aspect of this new face of poverty is that most of the women involved have not experienced long-term serious illness and have worked most of their lives, often in good, middle level jobs,” she said……

Destroy the Joint, Counting Dead Women, 29 April 2017

All but one of these deaths were allegedly by the hands of men either belonging to the same family group as the women or thought to be known by the women.

Although this is six less deaths than recorded by Destroy the Joint in mid-April 2016, there are still too many women being brutally killed and too many being badly injured.

ABC News, 12 August 2015:
Brain Injury Australia executive officer Nick Rushworth said it was "a matter of current public attention that one woman is killed every week by her partner or ex-partner".
He said he now wanted to draw attention to those women who had to live with chronic brain injury.
"Three women are hospitalised each and every week in this country with a traumatic brain injury — the result of an assault by her partner or ex-partner," he said.

Just over 20,000 people (20,111) were hospitalised in Australia in 2013–14 as a result of an assault, of which 31% (6,293) were women and girls. The overall rate of assault injury among women and girls was 56 cases per 100,000 population, compared with 121 for men. Rates of assault among women and girls were higher in age groups from about 15–19 to 50–54 years and the age group with the highest rate of assault was 30–34 years (113 cases per 100,000 population).

More than three-quarters (76%, or 4,788) of records of cases of assault against women and girls contained information about the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim. Where specific information about the perpetrator was available, ‘spouse or domestic partner’ was the most commonly reported perpetrator of assault among women and girls (59%, or 2,843 cases). ‘Parents’ (195 cases) and ‘other family members’ (726 cases) accounted for nearly half of the remaining cases where the type of perpetrator was specified.

Over half (59%, or 3,685) of all women and girls hospitalised due to assault were victims of an Assault by bodily force. A further quarter of all hospitalised assault cases against women and girls involved a blunt (17%, or 1,048 cases) or sharp object (9%, or 551 cases).

Open wounds (22%, or 1,400 cases), fractures (22%, or 1,375) and superficial injuries (19%, or 1,194) accounted for almost two-thirds of the types of assault injuries sustained by women and girls. For assaults by bodily force and involving sharp and blunt objects, the majority of injuries were to the head and neck area (63%, or 3,328).

Monday, 20 February 2017

Groundhog Day for women's services in Australia

Since 2013 the Abbott & Turnbull Federal Governments have announced up to $1b in savings measures that are cutting community services for the people in greatest need in Australia:

*$500 million over five years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community services (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under The Hon Tony Abbott and Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion)
*$270 million over four years from social services and a freeze on indexation of sector funding (Department of Social Services under The Hon Scott Morrison)
*$15 million from the community legal sector, which remains in place for sector support and capacity, including legal aid, community legal centres, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services, and women’s family violence legal and prevention services (Attorney General’s Department under Senator the Hon George Brandis)
*Foreshadowed cuts of $197 million over three years from health (Department of Health under The Hon Sussan Ley) [Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), 13 January 2017]

The Saturday Paper, excerpt from Federal cuts to family violence reform funding, 11 February 2017:

Just before Christmas, the Women’s Legal Service Victoria was notified that $200,000 of federal funding would be shaved. The service offers pro bono advice, representation and mediation for more than 3000 women each year, women who would otherwise not be able to afford it. They consider themselves a front-line service. “We can’t keep up with demand currently,” Joanna Fletcher tells me. “And this is before the cuts.”
Fletcher is the service’s chief executive. She is both angry and incredulous. “We’re already turning people away,” she says. “And it’s sad, because our service model is about providing service to those with barriers to justice. We’re now having to make decisions about what to cut, about what the least worst options are. We are incredibly frustrated on behalf of our clients. This is very short-sighted. We know from experience that early legal assistance is vital, for the protection of women but also for quicker outcomes.”
It’s a point made by all the family lawyers I spoke to for this piece: those in the legal system without representation spend a lot more time there. As well as diminishing a woman’s protection, it is ultimately costlier, and adds to procedural logjams. “There’s incredible commitment at the state level here,” Fletcher says, “but the apparent federal commitment hasn’t been followed by a financial commitment.” 
Fletcher’s Queensland counterparts have yet to be notified whether their funding will also be cut. They will be told at the end of March, but they are already preparing themselves for the worst. There is the same anger and incredulity there. “We’re absolutely alarmed,” says Angela Lynch, the acting co-ordinator of the Women’s Legal Service Queensland. “A 30 per cent cut would be catastrophic. Currently, we can only answer 50 per cent of incoming calls on our legal hotline. This will only worsen with the cuts. So, that’s much fewer women receiving advice and assistance. We’re a core service, and yet as it is we can’t properly service all women because we’re under-resourced. This is about women’s safety. Their lives.”
She said cuts “don’t make any sense when there’s a national plan, and the PM has made announcements. It makes no sense. We are a front-line service. And we do great work, and we push our money further than any other community service that I can think of. A third of our income is raised by fundraising or corporate partnerships. Up here in Queensland, family violence is still something that’s publicly discussed. There’s the rollout here of the Not Now, Not Ever recommendations. There was the horrific reminder of its importance last week, with the murder-suicide of Teresa Bradford. There’s momentum. But I cannot understand these federal cuts.”
Teresa Bradford was killed by her estranged husband on the Gold Coast. He was out on bail on other domestic violence charges. After Bradford’s death, the Women’s Legal Service Queensland hotline experienced a 50 per cent increase in calls, a spike common in the aftermath of atrocities. “We’re already chronically underfunded,” Lynch says. “When you’re cutting front-line services, you have to ask: is the federal government really committed to reducing family violence? Now we wait. We’ll know on the 31st of March. But we’ve survived for more than 30 years. We’ll fight on.” 
Marlene Ebejer is the principal lawyer of Ebejer and Associates, and a family law specialist. She tells me the cuts will have “diabolical” consequences. “These cuts won’t save money,” she says. “Cutting funding for women’s services cuts legal mediations, which stops things getting to court. This is an atrocious outcome. Already the courts can’t cope. There are massive delays, and delays are extended by those who aren’t represented.” 
Ebejer speaks bluntly, and passionately, about the need for legal reform but tells me that to argue for change is to experience groundhog day. Every lawyer she knows has made the same points for years: in a system where intervention orders fall under the state’s authority, and family law courts are federal, there needs to be improved cross-jurisdictional coherence. She also argues for increased mediation, to decrease the number of matters before court, and for the proper triaging of matters.
Herald Sun, 15 January 2017:
DOMESTIC violence victims and their children in regional NSW could be put at greater risk when federal government funding cuts to legal aid services begin to kick in later this year.
The cuts will also force a legal centre in southern Sydney to axe a program providing free legal advice to international students and immigrants being ripped off by their employers.
The services are among more than 15 centres across the state being forced to axe programs for vulnerable people after the funding cuts take ­affect in July this year.
Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre managing principal solicitor Arlia Fleming said the 19 per cent funding cut at her Katoomba centre would force a massive reduction in services to Bathurst and ­Lithgow.
“Currently we go to Lithgow and Bathurst on a weekly basis to give legal advice and we may have to reduce that to a monthly outreach,” Ms Fleming said.
“The most common cases we deal with are around family and domestic violence issues and this could mean children are left in unsafe situations ­because people feel like they have to hand over their children to someone who has been perpetrating violence.”……
Destroy the Joint, 19 February 2017:

Friday, 25 November 2016

WHITE RIBBON DAY: in 2016 the number of domestic violence-related homicides in New South Wales has risen by almost half

Destroy the Joint, 22 November 2016

ABC News, 22 November 2016:

The number of domestic violence-related homicides in New South Wales has risen by almost half, prompting police to call on the community to report suspected cases of family abuse.

There have been 32 homicides related to domestic violence across NSW so far this year, compared with 23 homicides at the same time last year.

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said that represents a 40 per cent increase in domestic violence incidents that results in death.

"These are more than just statistics, these are people's lives," Mr Scipione said.

"These are people who are dying in our streets and we need to make sure

Mr Scipione added that, in some cases, community members were aware of a history of violence in a home but had reservations about contacting police.

NSW Police attend about 145,000 incidents of domestic violence every year across NSW, or about 400 call-outs every day.

About 60 per cent of those victims have had no previous contact with police……

Labor MP for Lindsay Emma Husar, 23 November 2016:

In my first speech in this place I said 29 out of my 36 years of life had been affected by domestic violence. 
I am a survivor of family violence, and it has taken me a long time to overcome the trauma of that to be where I am today.

I know there are a lot of women out there who suffer in silence. Today I stand in solidarity with survivors, with those women afraid to speak, and I will use my story, told in this place to advocate for the change we need.

I will use the eve of white ribbon day as an opportunity to shine a light into the darkest corner of my own life. 
The first 13 years of my life was marred with physical domestic violence, committed towards my mother, at the hands of my always drunk-when-abusive Father.

My Dad was the son of a World War Two German soldier who committed many acts of violence against his wife and against his seven children. My father had been raised in a house where violence was the accepted norm and at a time when society said these were private matters.

Whilst the blows that landed on my mother during my childhood didn’t land on me physically – they may as well have. The trauma inflicted was the same. I recall it vividly and in great detail.

Each episode of this violence over my 13-years was different but the aftermath was always the same: Dad would apologise, promise to be different, and that would work for just a short time.

One evening, at the end of another round of abuse, Dad launched the family dinner of that evening at the wall. 
The stain remained on that wall for a very long time – the stain in my heart would linger much longer. Mum then bundled my sister and I into the family car and fled.

We would go to the refuges in our community, until, after so many years and so many incidents, my father knew the locations and we were not safe there anymore. We then shifted to staying in hotels, which were located above pubs where the people below were loud and sometimes their noise would spill into the streets, waking me and reminding me that I wasn’t in my own bed, in my own home. 

I was in a foreign place, because I was not safe in my home.

One night, when Mum was hurrying to get my sister and I out. Dad had removed and smashed the distributor cap from the car rendering it useless and us trapped. The Police fetched us this time.

I still remember sitting in the Police station well into the early hours of the morning and the officers in Penrith police giving us pink milk while we waited. The police did their best.

Again, after this event my Mum returned home.

We know why women return time and time again even when their lives are massively disrupted along with their children’s’, and I hope that the blame that was launched at my Mum during the 90’s for not leaving, is no longer part of the “solution” around domestic violence – and I hope the questions of ‘why doesn’t she just leave’ quit being asked.

Eventually, though, the courage rises up, services step up and women stand up. Finally leaving. But not before one last terrible incident.

There were 13-police cars the last time physical violence affected my childhood. But this was the end of the physical violence, once and for all. Whilst the physical part ceased other abuse around finance and control ramped up.

Sadly, the wheel of domestic violence continues to affect my life as a grown woman, with children of my own. The last 16-years of my life have been and continue to be affected by domestic and family violence.

In the limited time I have left, I would like to thank Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for his continued support of my current situation, his understanding, and the support he provides to me. I would also like to thank my caucus colleagues and staff who know my story, who don’t judge me and continue to provide support. 

I would like to acknowledge the Penrith Women’s Health Service who have been providing services to my community for 30-years, including to my Mum then, and to my family now.

Sometimes in my experience I have found that, mostly, victims don’t talk about domestic violence because other people don’t talk about domestic violence.

For many years I was embarrassed and ashamed. I know that I shouldn’t be but I am.

I hope that today, I have lent my voice, my story, and my passion for advocating change, to the choir of the white ribbon movement who call on us to stand up, speak out and act. 
[Transcript @randlight]