‘It might take a few days, 5 or 6 if we’re lucky, but it will happen again.’
That is a line I wrote yesterday about the tragic death of Tara Brown and I was wrong. We didn’t have to wait a day before it happened again. We barely had to wait a few hours. At 9.15am on the Gold Coast Karina Lock was shot by her former husband at McDonalds.
The same morning a 51 year old man rammed his partner’s car in suburban Brisbane and chased her along a street with a machete. The fact she’s still alive doesn’t lessen the brutality of what she endured.
Another woman is in a critical condition in Victoria after being stabbed earlier today. It is suspected to be another instance of domestic violence.
Australia is in crisis. This week 5 women have been killed by people known to them in Australia. In their homes. In their cars. In a McDonalds store. Two young children have also died at the hands of people known to them. In their own homes. In this country. This week.
It is sickening.
Last night the inaugural Our Watch Walkley Awards were held in Sydney. They were held to recognise and celebrate exemplary reporting of violence against women, in particular reporting that highlights the causes of violence and what we can do to ‘stop it before it starts’. The media has enormous power in its ability to shift perceptions of and change attitudes towards family violence. The media can give Australians a glimpse of the reality that is life with domestic violence.
Rewarding media reporting that helps do that is worthy. It wasn’t that long ago that family violence was dismissed, as a matter of course, as a ‘non-story’ by the press. That change alone is worth celebrating.
But the privilege of being able to report on this violence as a bystander, as opposed to a person who has, or is, living with it, was particularly stark and poignant last night.
When survivor advocate Dr Ann O’Neill took the stage after the Minister Assisting the Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, she said that would be a tough act to follow. With a single line she proved that completely untrue.
Twenty-one years ago Ann explained how her estranged husband killed their two children Kyle and Latisha, before killing himself. Dr O’Neill woke up in hospital with half her right leg amputated and her children murdered. And do you know the worst bit? That she woke up to media reports saying ‘what a nice guy’ he was. That she was asked, often, what she had done to ‘make him do it’.
The answer that she eventually settled on was simple. “I breathed. I think that’s the part he didn’t like.”