opinion

22 weeks, 20 women murdered: This is a national crisis.

Warning: This post deals with allegations of violence and murder and may be triggering for some readers.

The feature image of this article illustrates women who have been tragically murdered in Australia in 2022.

It's too much. 

It's too many. 

We've just marked the end of another Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month, and we do so grieving two more women killed over the weekend.

Women have been murdered every month this year, at an average rate of one per week.

This is a national crisis that needs immediate, urgent attention.

20 women have died in 22 weeks in 2022. 

Too many lives are being cut short.

But when will enough be enough? 

***

At 10.30pm on Saturday night, emergency services arrived at a home in Darley, west of Melbourne, to find Shirley Kidd with critical injuries.

The 67-year-old couldn't be revived.

Her 20-year-old grandson, Hayden Kidd, has been charged with murder.  

The Herald Sun reports neighbours heard a loud argument and screams coming from the grandmother's home that night. 

She's being remembered as a cheerful, positive woman who was often at the school gate picking up some of her many grandkids. 

She was the 20th woman killed by violence this year. 

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On Friday morning, on the Sunshine Coast, 25-year-old Feebie McIntosh was taken to the local hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. She died from her injuries.

Two men have since been charged with murder. 

Her friends have flooded her Facebook page with messages of shock, horror and grief. They've remembered her beautiful smile, her positive energy and her ability to start a conversation with absolutely anyone. 

She was the 19th woman killed by violence this year. 

Behind every number, there's a story of tragedy. Our leaders hand out condolences and our politicians tell us they're putting plans in place to address it, but nothing has changed yet. Women keep dying at an average of one per week.

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It's been said that this month's federal election was led by women. They led the charge for change, fed up with the lack of real movement in this space alongside stagnant action on other key issues like climate change and childcare costs. 

The previous Morrison government had started to enact a National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032. But we also had a leader who had to turn to his wife to understand compassion for Brittany Higgins' allegations. Who told parliament when women marched the street that they were lucky they weren't being "met with bullets" like in other countries. A man who rewarded industries run by men in the wake of COVID, when it was women's professions that took the greater hit. Again and again and again, women were shown their safety and their stories weren't a priority. 

They voted for change. And Labor has promised it; 500 new community sector workers, a new Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Commissioner, $100 million towards crisis accommodation, 10 days paid days of DV leave, a national definition of domestic violence that includes coercive control. It all sounds promising... 

But right now, women are still dying. 

We know women are disproportionately affected by domestic violence - which is the driver behind the vast majority of these murders.

'What about the men? They can be victims too?' is a common retort.

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True, they are. They can be. 

But as Our Watch will tell you, 95 per cent of all victims of violence - whether women or men - experience violence from a male perpetrator. 

Domestic violence occurs across all ages, socioeconomic and demographic groups but there's no denying it mainly affects women and children, as the AIHW confirms. Indigenous women, young women and pregnant women are particularly at risk.

Every year, we brace for a new onslaught of horror. New faces to add to a macabre list. 

In January alone we lost five women and one child - a six-year-old girl. Vanessa and her mother Poonam, were allegedly murdered by their father and husband. A 10-year-old sister survived. 

On Valentine's Day, Vanessa Godfrey was found dead inside a resort on the Sunshine Coast. Her husband was charged with murder.

In March, mother-of-six Kylie Griffiths died in a Perth house fire allegedly lit by her husband. 

In April, Danielle Jordan died from critical injuries sustained after falling from a moving vehicle in the ACT. Her ex-partner was charged with murder. 

This is a story that refuses to go away. History just keeps repeating itself.

This Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month we had our first change of government in eight years. Let's hope the new team in charge act boldly, and swiftly. 

Because more women will be murdered in 2022; that fact is already a given. 

The time to act has well and truly passed us by.

Read our series of open letters from the loved ones of women we've already lost:

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

You can also call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.

The Men’s Referral Service is also available on 1300 766 491 or via online chat at www.ntv.org.au.

Feature image: Facebook/7News/QLD Police/Mamamia.