Jimmy Barnes' sister was almost murdered by her husband on her wedding night. He's had enough.


“Violence against women; throw away the key as far as I’m concerned,” Jimmy Barnes told the Q&A panel last night.

It was just one of many insightful, eloquent and raw admissions from the rock legend who is today being heralded as the ABC’s ‘truth-o-metre.’

As the conversation dipped and turned from climate change to mental health to homophobia in schools, Barnes spoke his truth bluntly but politely – calling out questionable claims and holding weak excuses to account.

When asked about the epidemic of domestic violence in Australia he was particularly candid.

He has seen it first hand, after all.

Here’s Jimmy Barnes on Q&A last night. Post continues after video.

Video via ABC

“I have seen this kind of behaviour many nights in our home with my father…my mother’s friends would constantly be in the house with black eyes, fat lips, I’d see my mum lying on the floor,” he told the audience.

The 63-year-old grew up in Adelaide, having moved there from Scotland aged five.

He had a violent, alcoholic dad and a long suffering mum who eventually left when she couldn’t take the poverty, drugs, booze and fighting anymore.


She’d moved her family from the slums of Glasgow in the hope of a better life, but the reality was it was the same problems just in a strange place – and this time she had no one to help her.

Sometimes Barnes and his siblings found themselves hiding her under the bed to protect her, but eventually, she fled when Barnes was just eight.

By nine he was drinking and by 11 he was taking drugs.

What followed was teenage years embroiled by gang culture, fighting, and hardship, all largely unsupervised.

It was scary, it was gritty, and it is the story of many Australian families dealing with the fallout of domestic violence.

Barnes writes about it in his book Working Class Boy.

If Barnes hadn’t quit his job as an apprentice moulder and fled to Armidale with his band mates, the Cold Chisel singing Aussie legend we know today could have found himself on a very different path.


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So proud of my big brother John Swan being given the Australia Day honour. I am proud of him every day!

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“He tied her hair in a barbed wire fence and punched the hell out of her,” Barnes told Q&A of the time his brother-in-law nearly killed his sister the night of their wedding.

A brutal visual image that gives an insight into some of the horror he has played witness to over the years.

The generational violence he saw in his father and then in his sister’s relationship – Barnes watched both his mother and sibling become victims.

“This is a real complex mental health, poverty, all sorts of issues that need to be dealt with at once and it’s going to have to be generational change.

“We have to teach our children from day one, there has to be support for families.

“But it can’t go on, there needs to be tougher penalties, there needs to be more support for women,” he reiterated to the ABC panel.


“Why do you think women end up sleeping in paddocks?” he asked. “There’s not enough places for refuge.”

“The other side of that coin is that men are so unsupported and not dealing with their own emotional issues that they’re killing themselves in droves as well,” he added.

“So if they’re not killing women, they’re killing themselves,” he stated matter-of-factly.

After laying his heart on the Q&A panel table, Barnes didn’t let up as Liberal MP Nicolle Flint tried to defend the government’s action on domestic violence, mental health and homelessness.

He demanded answers as to why the government suddenly had ‘promises’ to offer right when there was an election.

“Why haven’t they been going on for six years?” he asked.

“That’s why people are disillusioned,” he told her.

Last night we watched Barnes unleash an impassioned frustration while Ms Flint – a member of the re-elected Liberal party – uncomfortably tried and failed to defend a government not doing enough.

The Liberal government has promised $328 million for domestic and family violence, but according to the Women’s Electoral Lobby, we need $754 million to make progress.

Barnes spoke for a large portion of disillusioned Australians last night from any and all sides of politics, and from where we’re sitting he made more sense on the topic of politics than the actual politicians in the room.