Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to combat domestic violence after a horror week for Australian women that claimed the lives of a 12-year-old girl and a heavily pregnant mother-of-four, among countless others.
On Thursday morning, Mr Turnbull — who this week said “real men don’t hit women” — is expected to use his first policy announcement to promise millions of dollars in funding to curb the growing problem.
Domestic Violence Victoria CEO Fiona McCormack described it as “soul destroying” each time she heard about a death.
“We are seeing so many women murdered through violence … all forms of violence,” Ms McCormack told The New Daily.
“It is really depressing to see, these are our mothers, our sisters, our aunties, they are the women next door, these are every day Australians.”
The most recent saw a 12-year-old girl lose her life.
NSW police were called to a home in Aberglasslyn, near Maitland, early Wednesday morning and found the girl’s body in her bedroom.
Her step-father, a 31-year-old man, was later charged with murder.
Police have released little detail surrounding the death, but remained at the home throughout the day gathering evidence.
In the early hours of Tuesday, the body of 37-year-old Kirralee Paepaerei was found in her Mount Druitt townhouse by her 15-year-old son.
It is understood the boy found the body when he returned to the house, after leaving hours earlier when Ms Paepaerei and her 38-year-old de facto partner, Joshua Homann, allegedly began to argue.
The mother-of-four was seven months pregnant with her fifth child when she died of extensive wounds to her face and chest.
Homann appeared in court on Wednesday charged with Ms Paepaerei’s murder.
Meanwhile on Monday, a 17-month-old girl could not be resuscitated after emergency services were called to her family’s Campsie home, where they also found the body of her mother in a suspected murder-suicide.
‘A gross discrepancy between demand and capacity’
Anti-domestic violence advocates described the Federal Government’s response to domestic violence so far as ‘inadequate’, although also optimistic that may change under new PM Malcolm Turnbull.
It was an issue Mr Turnbull confronted in his first interview after he was appointed.
“[Domestic violence] has been overlooked to some extent, it has been ignored for far too long, and we must have zero tolerance for it,” he said.
White Ribbon Foundation CEO Libby Davies told The New Daily the issue had been overlooked and would need more than advisory panels and committees to combat it, as was the approach of the Abbott Government.
“There are some elements of reform that are immediate change, or will be changes to systemic issues that will have an immediate impact,” she said.
“Attitudinal and behavioural change, the prevention work, is much more long-term. All governments must be committed to long-term change.”
But change needs to be widespread.
Just last week, NT Attorney-General John Elferink was dumped as a White Ribbon ambassador after telling Nightcliff MP Natasha Fyles he was “really tempted to give her a slap right now, figuratively speaking”.
He later apologised for the comment and said it was “unwise”.
Ms McCormack said government should take a lead role in abating the epidemic and had a “responsibility to honour these deaths… to ensure this never happens again”.
“In terms of funding, in the last budget there was more than $1 billion invested into terrorism, and I don’t think we have had an Australian murdered through terrorism this year,” she said.
“And the only new money we saw in relation to responding to family violence was an additional $20 million.
“That says something about our priorities as a society and says something about the priorities of government. I think it is seen as a side issue and really it needs to be core business.”
The numbers are startling
Each day police across the nation deal with 657 reports of domestic violence.
In reality, the numbers are thought to be much higher, as many do not report.
“We know that when women report domestic violence they are vulnerable,” Ms Davies said.
“It is about ensuring we continue to systemically connect the dots and more effectively protect them when they are most vulnerable – when they are leaving a relationship.”
Ultimately, Ms Davies called for “less talk and more action”.