On May 26, 2019, I received an early morning visit from the Victoria Police Homicide Squad. Being a lawyer, I thought it must be about a client. I wish it was.
My 25-year-old daughter, Courtney Herron, had been killed.
As a parent, my worst nightmare had been realised. I'd lost my child; my first-born, my only daughter.
The following weeks were a daze. I kept hoping it was not true.
"My daughter's name is etched into Melbourne's consciousness."
Courtney was a powerful advocate against gender-based violence.
It is a tragic irony that an evil man — an accomplished and violent perpetrator against women — took her life. And in such horrible circumstances.
She had met her killer, Henry Hammond, the previous evening. He approached her to ask for a cigarette. They shared a conversation, went out for a meal, went to a gathering with her friends. Then, as they walked together through Royal Park that night, he took her life.
When Courtney’s body was found, it took Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius to reference that this was "about men’s behaviour (to women)." He was right.
Now my daughter’s name is etched into Melbourne’s consciousness for all the wrong reasons. Now she joins the names of Jill Meagher, Eurydice Dixon and Aiia Maasarwe, among others. And my name is forever linked to the remaining parents of these murdered women.
Yet despite these lives taken, there seems to be little change. Women are hurt — or worse — on an industrial scale. Just for going outside or while in their own home.
It's an issue I've seen from another side, too.
As a small-town lawyer, I am on the front line, at what I call the apex of violence against women: where family and criminal law meet.
What would seem like a quiet street, often hides dark secrets to which I am privy.
Since Jill Meagher's murder in 2012 and the subsequent Victorian Family Violence Royal Commission, there has been some good work done. That is the result of some tremendous efforts by governments and the dedication and passion of people I encounter every day.