By MIA FREEDMAN
My friend Wendy Squires told me about Tracy Connelly a long time ago. She didn’t know her name back then. In fact she didn’t know Tracy’s name until yesterday.
But I clearly recall her telling me about the woman in her neighbourhood who worked the streets near Wendy’s house.
She described Tracy with warm affection, the way you’d describe any neighbour with whom you liked to stop and chat as you went to get a coffee or walked your dog.
Often Wendy would grab a coffee for Tracy while she was at the cafe and that small gesture of kindness was so gratefully received, it was like she’d handed her a hundred dollar note.
Last week, when the news broke that a woman had been murdered in St Kilda.There wasn’t much media coverage, there were no photos of the woman. The sole identifier the media used for the woman, was her profession. She was a sex worker.
I texted Wendy immediately.
“Is it her? Your friend?”
“I don’t know” Wendy said. “I’m trying to find out.”
It’s wasn’t easy because there was so little information available.
The media coverage of Tracy’s murder was perfunctory. Unlike last year when the beaming face of Jill Meagher was plastered across every media outlet, there were no photographs of Tracy Connelly in the media.
When I was putting this post together and thinking about the difference between the coverage of (and reaction to) Jill’s murder and Tracy’s murder, I tried to find some shots of Tracy. Because without seeing her as a person, it can be harder for people to connect and to care. The media needs pictures. Without them, news coverage is tiny.
The public needs pictures too. Just like the refugees who drown in the darkness without us ever knowing their faces, their names or their stories, people find it hard to empathise with victims – or even see them as people with grieving loved ones – if they don’t know what they look like.
Tracy’s loved ones have kindly supplied the photos here. They are the first the public will see of a young woman whose life was cruelly and violently cut short.
I’d like to think the lack of empathy, the complete absence of public support, distress or even shock about the death of Tracy Connelly is because of the lack of photos.