There's one person we really hope watched Rosie Batty on Q&A last night.

Even before last night’s Q&A program focusing on the shame and travesty that is Australia’s domestic violence epidemic aired, it was already controversial.

The panel, it was widely noted, was weighted three to two in favour of men. There were complaints that this gender imbalance is at the core of women not being seen as equal, valued and respected in our society. Why, in a discussion on women’s safety, were male voices dominating?

It was a fair enough argument but, having watched the program, I was left feeling angry and cheated that there wasn’t another man on the panel — our federal Minister for Women, who also happens to be our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

Rosie Batty says we need to stop asking “why doesn’t she leave?” about domestic violence victims.

The fact Mr Abbott was a no show, to my mind, goes to the heart of the problem and that is that this issue is not being acknowledged for what it is – a national emergency.

 Related content: How to get a domestic violence intervention order. 

One in three women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime in this country, a statistic alarmingly on the increase. Already this year, 13 Australian women have been murdered by a partner or ex partner, double the national average of one per week last year. It is estimated that 1.6 million women in this country have already experienced domestic violence, which is the leading cause of death or injury in women under 45.

If this isn’t a matter of priority for our Minister for Women, then I’d like to know what is. Instead of appearing on the Q&A program last night, Mr Abbott spent his day addressing new measures to counter Australia’s terrorism threat. And while this is an important endeavour, no doubt, it did make me stop and take stock that while two lives have been lost through a terrorist act on Australian soil in our recent history, it pales in comparison to the amount killed by domestic terrorism already this year – and it’s not even March!

Simon Santosha – the Managing Director of Men & Family Counselling and Consultancy on the Gold Coast.

I can only hope our Minister for Women found the time to watch Rosie Batty, whose son Luke was tragically slaughtered by his own father, opening her heart and baring her soul in the hope of helping other women in fear of their children’s safety should they take a stance against their abusers.   Related content: Rosie Batty is our 2015 Australian of the Year.   We can only hope he listened and ached from his core as I did hearing Rosie dispel the myths surrounding family violence, that it’s not about postcode, education or income and that, as an educated, professional woman, “if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody”. I hope he shuddered in disgust and horror as I did hearing her explain how in this so-called Lucky Country, “you can’t always trust the response from the people you need to turn to,” as a woman seeking help, and how the judicial and court systems make the “process as tough as the abuse you’ve been through”.  

Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja.

  I sincerely trust Mr Abbott heard the men on the panel, Tim Cartwright, Acting Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police; Charlie King, NT radio sports broadcaster and Simon Santosha, Counsellor for Men and Families, all agree that “absolutely, misogyny is entrenched in society”. I hope he noted their frustration that the current system denies access to vital information such as the mental health records of a perpetrator and admissions it is failing on too many levels.   


   I hope our Minister for Women stopped to listen to the articulate and heartfelt words of Natasha Stott Despoja, Ambassador for Women and Girls, as she stressed that along with a change in attitudes in the community to eradicate the inextricable link between gender inequality and violence against women, “We need to ensure the courts and the judiciary understand this is a national emergency and we need to enforce legislation and policing as it exists, and change it where it is failing”. I hope he heard her stress the importance of education, of “men holding other men accountable, facing their actions, seeing the damage they’ve done and how many they’ve affected”.

Tim Cartwright, Acting Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police.

I can only hope Mr Abbott listened to the stories of the women in the audience betrayed by our current system and reconsidered that at a time when the government is allocating $25 billion for new submarines, that stripping $271 million from domestic violence services is a preposterous insult. I hope our Minster for Women stopped to regret his rare appearance on the Q&A program in March, 2009, where he said, “I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand, I think they both need to be moderated so to speak.”

But most of all I hope he took stock of Rosie Batty’s appeal to other women caught in the terror of domestic abuse, that they “deserve a life where you can wake up and not have to worry every day”, and actually does something concrete to help make that possible. Now!

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