Opinion Kelly Wilkinson is another Australian woman dead. She shouldn’t be
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Kelly Wilkinson is another Australian woman dead. She shouldn’t be

kelly wilkinson
Police found Kelly Wilkinson's burnt body in the backyard of her Arundel home. Photo: Facebook
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Her name was Kelly Wilkinson, and her body was found in a Gold Coast backyard before breakfast time on Tuesday.

She was 27. She lost her own mother only a few weeks ago.

And this week, police believe her three young children watched her die after being set alight, allegedly by her ex-partner, who remains under police guard in hospital.

Do we care? Do we really care?

If we did, wouldn’t this be causing national outrage?

Wouldn’t our politicians and policy makers be coming together, determined to end the scourge of domestic violence?

Wouldn’t we be frantic about change?

Wouldn’t we all be heartbroken by the fact another young mother has died the most brutal death imaginable?

By the time toxicology results are returned, and the alleged perpetrator’s story unfolds in court, we’ll have moved on.

And that’s understandable, when you consider police are called out to a domestic violence incident in this country every two minutes.

How many catalysts for change do we need before we act?

This alleged murder mirrored that of another Queensland mother of three, Hannah Clarke, who only a year ago was tracked down by a jealous ex-husband and set alight.

Rowan Baxter also burned to death their three young children.

Then in February this year, Doreen Langham met a similarly gruesome end.

Is this a new method of murder? A petrol can and a match?

Is it possible to imagine a more sickening death?

And yet, we have silence from those who are in the position to forge real change.

Yes, there are reviews into coercive control and inquiries into criminal penalties and questions about the worth of domestic violence orders.

Millions and millions of dollars have already been spent on them.

But how much longer will it take to decide that the current system is appalling?

How long before we acknowledge that some men – because the perpetrators are predominantly men – do not deserve a moment more freedom?

Each of the domestic murders that occur on a weekly basis in Australia has its own story, mired in fear and violence.

It doesn’t only end the life of a victim. It also destroys the futures of those left behind.

I can see that in the anguish Hannah Clarke’s beautiful parents Lloyd and Sue hold in their eyes, 14 months after their world turned upside down.

Imagine Kelly Wilkinson’s neighbours – who this week saw the deadly flames leap higher than the fence they shared with Kelly.

They will remember Tuesday for as long as they live.

The police officers who arrived first to what they now call a “confronting’’ scene probably hugged their children a little bit tighter this week.

The paramedics, and those in hospital caring for the alleged perpetrator, will carry their own scars forward.

Imagine the effect, forever, on Kelly’s three children, all aged under nine. And on their friends. And on their school community.

It’s easy for our politicians to dance around reviews.

It’s easy for them to signal a meeting with Brittany Higgins or to say workplace cultures need change or that the women of Australia deserve better.

Of course we deserve better.

But if they really meant that, why wouldn’t they start with the most brutal gender imbalance of all – domestic and family violence?

On hearing of Kelly’s death, a senior Brisbane family lawyer, who has young children, took to social media to say she couldn’t quite find the words to describe how she felt.

To say frontline workers had had enough of “these crimes’’ was a “f–king understatement’’, she said.

“When will the government (both state and federal) realise we are dealing with terrorism on our own soil?’’

Police officers too talked about the need for 50-year non-parole periods and real prison terms for offenders.

Meanwhile our politicians look sad and shocked, and get on with their lives.

Kelly Wilkinson (allegedly), like Hannah Clarke and Doreen Langham and the other 50 women who will die as a result of domestic homicide this year, don’t have that luxury.

So how many more mothers and sisters and aunts and daughters have to die before we really care enough to stop it?

Ten? One hundred? One thousand?

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