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Until the numbers start to decline, I do not think this story has been told - Helen McCabe

September 20 2016 By Helen McCabe, Head of Lifestyle, Nine Entertainment

Helen McCabe's Our Watch Gold Award address.

Ladies and gentlemen thank you.

I am very honoured to be among you tonight. 

For this is an issue I feel especially angry about.

As a journalist you get battle weary. 

And I am of that era when as a young reporter in Adelaide, I was turned away from crime scenes because they were ‘just a domestic’.

But 25 years later I am as angry about this issue as I have ever been.

Let me be clear: I count myself as one of the lucky ones, I have never been a victim of domestic violence.

But I know I could have been.

I  know because I have heard countless stories from women who have been victims. Women not unlike me.

I am not exaggerating.

There was the staff member who begged her father to kill her instead of her mother.

The staff member whose new boyfriend assaulted her.

The friend whose alcoholic father terrorised her childhood.

The actor whose boyfriend smashed her head into a marble floor. 

The high profile journalist who contemplated suicide when no-one believed her story of family violence.

As I was writing this over the weekend, these stories came flooding back.

And I was again angry about those despicable columns that have begun to crop up which insist this whole thing is a bit of a fabrication.

I am also angry because I don’t know how much headway we have made or are going to make.

Around this time last year I gave a speech urging the media to remain vigilant long after this issue was fashionable.

Rosie Batty elevated it and of course there has been change.

And I commend everyone here; the journalists who produced the stories, Natasha and Our Watch, to The Walkley’s for championing this award and to all of you for coming along.

But with the end of Rosie’s reign it is incumbent on all of us to continue to tell these stories with depth and breadth. 

These stories cannot be allowed to return to the bottom of news feeds or in the second break of TV bulletins.

We know the media has genuine bona fide power.

And, so while I am speaking to the converted tonight, I urge you to urge your colleagues to get behind the headlines, to probe the statistics, to help the perpetrators, to uncover the truth and to keep writing.

Please find new angles, new faces, new Rosies.

Find the "audio description" version of this video here. 

There are people better qualified on this but from my perspective, and in some ways to state the bleeding obvious, the following needs to happen.

The victims need greater protection. 

The incredible work of the police needs vastly more funding.

The shame of coming forward needs to be eliminated.

The army of volunteers in our women’s shelters need to be consulted and heard.

The courts need to send a strong message to men that if they abuse women they will be locked up. 

Any teenage boy needs strong male role models.

I am not only angry because this is happening but I am angry because I fear this issue will recede from the spotlight.

In preparation for tonight I went over the work of the winners.

I revisited Hitting Home by Nial Fulton, Ivan O’Mahoney and of course the incomparable - Sarah Ferguson - and I watched it with that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

More than once I stopped the video feeling nauseous as harrowing images of the beatings flashed across the screen.

In that distinctive tone Sarah recounted how nationwide police deal with 650 domestic violence events EVERY DAY.

And I am really angry that in South Australia - where I began as that young reporter who was turned away from ‘domestics’ - the campaign by Lauren Novak and Sheridan Holderhead took six months to uncover the shocking scale of this issue.

It’s a disgrace.
We know it’s a scandal, almost every sensible person agrees and yet is enough really being done?

I fear not.

So let me conclude by saying  until the numbers start to decline, I do not think this story has been told.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is only the beginning of our fight.

Thank you.

This speech was delivered at the 2016 Our Watch Awards on Wednesday 14 September 2016 in Sydney.

See all Our Watch Award 2016 winners here.  

Find the "audio description" version of this video here. 

About the Our Watch Awards:

Our Watch developed a national media awards scheme to be administered by the Walkley Foundation to recognise and reward exemplary reporting to end violence against women, in particular reporting that highlights the causes of violence and what we as a society can do to stop it before it starts. The Our Watch Awards, now in their second year, is an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

Find out more information about the Awards, as administered by The Walkley Foundation. For more information on Our Watch and resources for journalists

*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.”

Media Contact:

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

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.