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Spate of Queensland murders both tragic and unnecessary

April 28 2016 By Mary Barry, Our Watch CEO.

The murders of 29-year-old Sandra Peniamina and 46-year-old Michelle Reynolds in south-east Queensland earlier this month are tragic.

Allegedly killed by their partners, Sandra and Michelle were not the only victims of senseless violence. Ten children, all under age 12 have had their lives shattered and now face growing up without their mothers.

Rosie Batty called domestic violence an epidemic, and she's right. Just last week, a further two women were killed.

One in Queensland's remote community of Pormpuraaw, following a reported assault, while a second woman was found dead at a campsite in Bladensburg National Park. 

This is not a problem unique to Queensland. According to Counting Dead Women Australia researchers of Destroy the Joint, 22 Australian women have been murdered so far in 2016, a majority allegedly killed by either a current or former male partner.

At this stage, this equates to one woman every five days. When we can't even go a working week without a woman being murdered, we have a serious problem.

Findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health released last month found rates of domestic violence in Australia are "as high, if not higher" than 20 years ago.

While any increase in domestic violence may be related to a surge in public awareness and support, leaving women more comfortable to come forward, these murders are a grim reminder of the continued prevalence of violence against women.

This tide of violence against women and their children needs to stop, and we have evidence that indicates we can stop it before it starts.

Australia is a world leader in primary prevention, demonstrating success in curbing smoking rates and improving road safety, so we know that population-wide change is possible. 

Next month, 60 leading Queensland organisations in prevention practice will join Our Watch experts during Domestic and Family Violence Awareness Month to learn how they can help to end domestic violence under a consistent, evidence-based approach through adopting Change the story, a world-first national framework to end violence against women and their children.

Violence against women and their children is preventable if we work together, which is why Our Watch is calling on all state and federal governments to act on findings from both the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Advisory Panel calling for increased and sustained investment in response end services and prevention. 

Delaying action on domestic violence will result in further untimely and unnecessary deaths that should have never happened in the first place.

This article was originally published on 23 April 2016 by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Media contact

For enquiries or further information: Hannah Grant, Our Watch, mobile 0448 844 930, email Hannah.Grant@ourwatch.org.au

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.”

About Our Watch 

Our Watch’s (previously the Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children) purpose is to raise awareness and engage the community in action to prevent violence against women and their children.
Our Watch was conceived of and brought into existence in 2013 by the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of Victoria. The Northern Territory, South Australian, Tasmanian and Queensland governments have also since become members of the organisation.
Our Watch’s work derives from the government’s commitment to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 and gives expression to many of the activities in the Second Action Plan 2013–2016 – Moving Ahead.