Legislative Council, Tuesday 31 October 2023
Mr President, I rise on adjournment to speak of an urgent and important matter.
Mr President - five women in Australia have been killed in the last ten days – this is one every two days in Australia.
We know that on average one woman a week is killed by a current or intimate partner – this is one every two days!
We know that tragically, still after years of raising awareness about the devastating toll on women and their families noting that still. In the last six days alone there have been four such deaths we are aware of.
Mr President, organisation Counting Dead Women Australia and the Facebook group Destroy the Joint are a group of people dedicated to campaign for national action on violence against women including researchers who seek to report on all violent deaths of women in Australia.
They note that in at least 75 per cent of the cases reported from 2012 to 2022, the victim knew her alleged killer. They not only record deaths attributed as domestic or family violence, as they believe all violent deaths targeted against women are the result of societal misogyny.
They include women killed by other women (lateral violence). Their small but sad number confirms that most violence against women is perpetrated by men.
As noted on their Page, they continue the task of maintaining the most credible and substantiated record of women killed by violence in Australia and bring the heartbreaking news of women killed.
Mr President, I will repeat a brief summary of just four deaths that have occurred in Australia just this week that organisation Counting Dead Women Australia have reported including on the Destroy the Joint Facebook page.
I note the Court processes will determine all the details of each death but we must be aware and not turn away from these tragedies.
Mr President I quote from the page – six days ago:
… another woman killed in her own home, the victim of murder in a suspected murder-suicide. We have very few facts at present but what little we know we bring to you to honour the victim’s life. …
Paramedics and police were called to a home in Bruce, ACT, at about 5:40pm on Monday (October 23rd) after a couple were found unresponsive by their daughter. On arrival paramedics found Thi Thuy Huong Nguyen (65) dead in the kitchen, with multiple knife stab wounds. Her partner Van Thanh Vu (70) was found injured and unresponsive and was taken to hospital where he remains in a serious condition under police guard. He has been charged with murder and refused bail. No further details are known as yet.
Two days later Mr President:
… it is with great sadness, only one day after our last report, that we bring you news of yet another woman killed in a violent assault. A young life is prematurely ended, a day of shock and grief dawns for family, friends and a small, tight-knit community. …
Police were called to a private school in Sydney’s CBD just before midnight last night (October 25th). Responding officers found the body of Lilie James (21) in the gym area of the school. A sports coach at the school, she had died as a result of severe head injuries.
Two days later the body of the only suspect in the murder, Paul Thijssen (24) an ex-partner of Ms James who worked as a sports assistant at the school, was found at the base of nearby cliffs.
Mr President, in an online article in Women’s Agenda by Katherine Berney, the Executive Director of the National Women’s Safety Alliance, she stated:
After the headlines of last week, I felt shattered and angry. Most corners of the media felt the need to rush in with assurances that Paul Thijssenn, the 24-year-old who allegedly bludgeoned a young woman to death in her workplace, was acting out of character — that he was a “good guy”, a “leader”, who snapped.
The reality is we don’t know anything about who he was in relationships with, other than he was 24 years of age, and the woman he saw for five weeks is now dead.
We then had headlines rushing to describe a cat-walking resident’s shock at an alleged murder in Canberra happening in “such an affluent area”. We have thought pieces that feel the need to excuse shattering violent choices as a mental health or public health crisis.
The reality is it is far more nuanced that “investing in men’s health” as a singular solution to society’s social issues.
Mr President, we cannot make excuses – we need to take action and responsibility.
And from the Destroy the Joint Facebook page yesterday Mr President,
… once more we bring the heartbreaking news of yet another woman killed in her own home, a life ended in what should be her place of safety. …
Shortly before midnight on Sunday October 29th emergency services were called to a home in Kangaroo Flat, Victoria, following reports of a woman being injured. Analyn Osias (46), known as Logee, was found unresponsive and taken to hospital, but was later declared dead. Two primary school-aged children were in the home but were not physically hurt.
After a search, police arrested an unnamed 44-year-old man, believed known to Ms Osias, at a reservoir 20 kilometres away. He remains in custody helping with enquiries. No charges have been laid and no further details are available at this time.
Then a second post - the same day Mr President:
…. we are heartbroken to bring news within hours of our last report of yet another woman killed in a violent assault. We feel, as always, for the loss and grief experienced by family and friends. …
Emergency services were called to the Crown Towers hotel in Burswood (WA) at about 11:10am on Monday October 30th, where it was reported a woman in her 30s had been found dead inside a room.
On arrival, police found a man aged in his 40s inside the same room with self-inflicted injuries. He was taken by ambulance to Perth Hospital as a priority case but was later discharged. He has been charged with murder and remains in police custody. It is believed both people are known to each other. Neither has yet been named and no further details are available at present.
Mr President, the woman’s death brings the total number of femicides to 57 in 2023, we are only in 43rd week of the year - five of these deaths have occurred in just ten days.
Mr President Respect Victoria, an organisation focused on the drivers of violence against women, is calling for change, with acting CEO Jacquie O’Brien calling these latest deaths “devastating and preventable”.
In online article in Women’s Agenda, Conor Pall, the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council Deputy Chair, said harmful stereotypes of masculinity play a role in the perpetuation of male violence. He stated:
“We know that the majority of victims – regardless of gender – experience violence from a male perpetrator,” Pall said.
“It’s time to retire the toxic ‘boys will be boys’ attitudes that continue to drive violence against women. It’s time to ignite a new conversation about being a man in a gender-equal society.”
The article goes on:
Last week, Respect Victoria joined a number of other organisations in the state, including Djirra, GENVic, No to Violence and Safe and Equal, in a statement against misogyny in the Australian media.
The statement, referring to The Herald Sun’s “sexist, harmful and tiresome” cartoon of Premier Jacinta Allen, said it’s up to the media to promote equality and shape our culture for good.
“This conversation is bigger than one misogynistic cartoon,” the statement read.
“It’s about headlines that paint men who murder their partners as ‘good blokes’, it’s disempowering images used in stories about family violence that show women cowering in the shadows.
“It’s articles that lean into racist or ableist stereotypes, that sexualise women and girls, that aim to take down women in positions of power, and that minimise violence using sexist ‘jokes’.”
Mr President we know that gender inequality sits behind violence against women. Misogyny and disrespect for women must be acknowledged and responded to.
Education is so important - we know this so we must ensure public education openly discusses and informs everyone of the harms.
We must ensure all Tasmanians know what effective bystander behaviour is and how to respond – not just to incidents of family violence but all forms of sexism, misogyny and disrespect.
We know that we must work with boys, young and older men. We must take a more proactive primary prevention approach. We must adequately fund proven programs to alter the attitudes and behaviours of perpetrators.
We need to understand how to be effective bystanders and support those impacted by all forms of family violence.
We must understand the very real danger and risk to the life woman at the time she makes a decision to leave an abusive relationship and the time surrounding her actually leaving.
Mr President, I raise this on adjournment as an urgent matter – four women, that we know of, losing their lives in violent circumstances in one week simply cannot be overlooked and not commented on.
Mr President this is an urgent matter. Every woman’s death is tragic and many of these could be prevented. We all have a personal responsibility to call out any and all forms of sexist comments or behaviour. We must all do all we can to acknowledge and address the very real gender inequality that persists in our community.
I know Minister Palmer, Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence has a deep understanding of this challenge and I call on the Government to ensure we adequately fund action in the primary prevention and provision of evidence based programs to perpetrators to do all we can to prevent all forms of abuse of women and essentially prevent any deaths of any women in these circumstances.
As reported in The Monthly today in an article by Rachel Withers it states:
Researcher Sherele Moody asks, how many is too many?
It’s a question women are increasingly asking themselves. Men remain the single greatest threat to women, despite constant cries of #NotAllMen, and this threat must be acknowledged if it is going to be changed.
As writer and advocate Jane Caro noted yesterday, “something is badly wrong” and we need an urgent rethink “of how we model relationships to both boys and girls, but especially boys”.
New research shows teenagers are experiencing intimate partner violence at “troubling” rates, with nearly one third of Australians aged 18 to 19 experiencing it in the past year.
Last year, the Albanese government announced a National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children, with the goal of “ending gender-based violence in one generation”; this year, the government announced a five-year plan to reduce the number of women killed by their partners by 25 per cent a year, along with the first dedicated action plan for Indigenous Australians.
Obviously, there is a lot going on right now in the world. But the collective silence that has followed this shameful period is terrifying – imagine the alarm if Australian men were being killed at a rate of one every two days by some clearly established pattern, and the public outcry that would follow.
As one social media user noted, on the current trajectory, around 16 more women will be killed before the year is out. Perhaps the scariest part is that women seemingly remain utterly expendable in the eyes of our leaders, with no national emergency called for this horrifying epidemic.
Mr President, I call on all of us to not be silent on this, we must not turn away and we must inform ourselves and be proactive.
Mr President, due to the nature of the contents of this speech I wish to note the services and support available to those currently experiencing or supporting a loved one in an abusive relationship.
To anyone listening or reading this, if you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800respect.org.au/
If you are concerned about your behaviour, or about someone using violence, call Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491
You can also contact the Women’s Legal Services and in an emergency, call 000.