There are a number of questions surrounding the Margaret River shooting that we will never have real answers to.
What we do know for sure is that on the morning of Friday May 11, police discovered the bodies of three adults and four children at a farm in Osmington, south of Perth. Bodies that have been identified as Peter Miles, 61, his wife Cynda, 58, their daughter Katrina, 35, and her four children Taye, 13, Rylan, 12, Ayre, 10, and Kayden, eight.
Police have also confirmed they are not looking for other suspects at this time and that the guns found on the property were registered to Peter Miles. There is the implication, though not the absolute confirmation, that Miles shot and killed his family in a murder-suicide, in an act of extreme family violence.
While we may never have concrete answers to the many questions still lingering from this horrific event, questions around the exact pattern of events that took place that night and the mental health state of those involved, we do have a solid answer to one burning, current question.
Is Australia doing enough to combat family and domestic violence?
The answer, sadly, is no.
This year the government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) compiled comprehensive data that showed our country is indeed in the midst of a family violence crisis, a crisis that appears to be both evolving and increasing.
And when you take a look at the topics dominating our news cycle this week, the tragedy surrounding the Margaret River shooting and the unveiling of the 2018-19 budget, it’s clear that when it comes to lifting Australians out of the throes of family violence, we are not prepared to put our money where our mouth is.
Family violence refers to violence between family members as well as between current or former intimate partners, it can include acts of violence between a parent and a child or
While there is no hard and fast way to put an end to family violence it cannot be denied that it is a case where funding and the availability of support and resources plays a key role in allowing people, particularly women who do not have their own means of financial support, to extricate themselves from dangerous situations.
The report also found that family violence was a leading cause of homelessness and that the problem had grown in the past five years. In fact, 72,000 women and 34,000 children sought homelessness services in 2016-17 due to family and domestic violence.
When your choices are either to stay in a violent situation or to live on the street, no amount of public awareness, including the sharing of social media placards or the wearing of white ribbons one day a year, will help you.
Of course we cannot assume that what happened to the Miles family was linked to the availability of funding or support, but what we do owe them and all Australian families is to take a closer look at the amount of resources on offer.
We owe it to them to keep this conversation going on a national level, preventing it from falling from our minds until the next time a family violence tragedy takes up residence on the front page of our newspapers and across our social media feeds.
Australian domestic and family violence campaigner Rosie Batty on what needs to change.