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.
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.
— Jane Caro (@JaneCaro) February 23, 2015
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!