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Open letter from Natasha Stott Despoja and prominent South Australians calls for greater domestic violence vigilance

May 13, 2020 / Natasha Stott Despoja, Our Watch Chair

In this article

Natasha Stott Despoja has penned an open letter, signed by seventy-six prominent South Australians, urging us all to be good bystanders for those at risk of violence during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Rocker Dave Gleeson, Our Watch ambassador Khadija Gbla, former senator and domestic violence campaigner Natasha Stott Despoja, Kornar Winmil Yunti Aboriginal Corporation CEO Craig Rigney and Crows AFLW player Chelsea Randall have each signed the open letter to take a stand against domestic violence.

Dear Fellow South Australians,

The Covid-19 virus presents an unprecedented challenge for everyone, and comes at a time of already significant natural disaster in Australia.
We have all worked hard to flatten the curve and we can take pride in this.

However, while crises affect all of us, research shows family violence can increase during these times.

We are concerned about any person who may be at risk and we have particular concern for those women and children for whom home is not safe.

While we know that home isolation and stress can intensify the underlying conditions that lead to violence, such as attitudes of disrespect, they do not cause it and they don’t excuse it.

There is no excuse for domestic and family violence and sexual assault against anyone.

When families have to be in their homes, the ability for people experiencing abuse to reach out can be limited.

South Australians are still mourning the murder of Kim Murphy in Morphett Vale last month. Her calls for help were heard, but not answered.

Her tragic death is a reminder we all have a part to play in looking out for each other and keeping our community safe. This is especially true for those already experiencing high rates of violence or disadvantage.

We can all be good bystanders: as neighbours, colleagues and friends, we can check up on those we are worried about. It doesn’t have to be in person. We can reach out using technology, the post and phones. This is also a time to report concerns or suspicions, including altercations, and to ensure our community is safe.

You can call for help if you are at risk of violence or may be at risk of perpetrating violence. The 1800RESPECT service is available, with counsellors available 24/7 on phone and web chat. The Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491 mrs.org.au and Mensline mensline.org.au are also available for men who want help. You can also contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.

If it is an emergency, or if someone is in danger, please call 000 immediately.

Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that our communities are safe and that we treat each other with respect. We know we can rise to this challenge.

Yours sincerely,


The Honourable Steven Marshall MP, Premier of South Australia

The Honourable Peter Malinauskas MP, Leader of the Opposition SA

The Honourable Tammy Franks, MLC, Greens

The Honourable Connie Bonaros MLC, SA-BEST

The Honourable Julia Gillard AC, former Prime Minister of Australia.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor

Grant Stevens APM, Commissioner of Police

Mickey Kumatpi O’Brien, Senior Kaurna Man.

Natasha Stott Despoja AO, Founding Chair, Our Watch

Dr James Muecke AM, Australian of the Year 2020

Mena Muecke OAM, Sight For All

Dr Richard Harris, Australian of the Year 2019

Professor David G Lloyd FRSC FTSE, Vice Chancellor and President, University of South Australia

Professor Mike Brooks FTSE FACS, Acting Vice-Chancellor, The University of Adelaide

Professor Colin Stirling, President and Vice Chancellor, Flinders University.

Carolyn Hewson AO

Bruce Carter, Chairman ASC Pty LTD

Laura Tyler, Asset President Olympic Dam BHP

Alister Haigh, CEO Haighs

Jodie van Deventer, Chief Executive Officer, Committee for Adelaide

Hamilton Calder, State Director, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA)

Dr Samantha Mead, CEO AMA (SA)

Dr Angelo Papageorgiou, President, Australian Dental Association SA Branch (ADASA)

Susie Smith and Belinda Halliday, co-chairs, Jennifer Kingswell Policy and Communications Manager, Embolden SA

Fiona Mort, Director Office for Women.

Maria Hagias, CEO, Women’s Safety Services South Australia (WSSSA)

Councillor Arman Abrahimzadeh OAM, Founder, Zara Foundation

Emeritus Professor Anne R Edwards AO, Inaugural Chair, ANROWS

Craig Rigney, Chief Executive Officer, Kornar Winmil Yunti Aboriginal Corporation

Miriam de Silva, Chair, In Touch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence.

Dale P West, Director, Centacare Catholic Family Services

Ross Womersley, CEO SACOSS

Dr Niki Vincent, Commissioner for Equal Opportunity (South Australia)

Mary Patetsos, President Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA)

Evelyn O’Loughlin, Chief Executive Officer, Volunteering SA and NT Inc., Premier’s Council for Women

Nerida Saunders, Executive Director, Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Department of the Premier and Cabinet

Associate Professor Lorna Hallahan, Flinders University Social Work, Premier’s Council for Women

Professor Mohamad Abdalla, Director, Centre for Islamic Thought and Education

Keith Thomas, CEO of the Port Adelaide Football Club

Bronwyn Klei, Chief Executive Officer, Netball SA and Adelaide Thunderbirds

Ben Kavenagh, CEO Adelaide 36ers

Jake Parkinson, CEO South Australian National Football League

Bruce Djite, Director of Football, Adelaide United FC

Kahlia Hogg, Adelaide United W League

Eugene Galekovic, head goalkeeper coach, Adelaide United

Taryn Brumfitt, founder Body Image Movement

Brad Chilcott, founder Welcoming Australia.

Ian Smith AM, Chair Barefoot to Boots

Poh Ling Yeow, Artist, chef, author

Vicky Welgraven, 2019 South Australian of the year finalist, Our Watch Ambassador

Khadija Gbla, Young South Australian of the Year 2009

David Penberthy, Journalist 5AA/News Corp.

Ali Clarke, ABC Radio Adelaide Breakfast

Jane Doyle, Presenter, Seven News Adelaide

Rebecca Morse, News presenter, Ten News First & Hit107

Brenton Ragless, Nine News Presenter

Kate Collins, Nine News Presenter

Warren Tredrea, sports presenter and former Port Adelaide captain

Jessica Harmsen, ABC News presenter

Katrina Webb OAM, Paralympic Gold Medalist, Founder Newday Leadership

Keith Conlon OAM

Molly Murn, author

Andrew Baines, artist

Matt Gilbertson (aka Hans), journalist and entertainer

Cathy Taylor, CEO, Department of Child Protection

Lois Boswell, Acting CEO, Department of Human Services SA

Dr Julie Monis-Ivett OAM, Birthing Kit Foundation Australia Co-Founder and Director

Media contact

Saraya Musovic, Senior Media and Communications Advisor (saraya.musovic@ourwatch.org.au or 0448 844 930) or Laurelle Keough, Media and Communications Manager (laurelle.keough@ourwatch.org.au or 0448 844 930) or media@ourwatch.org.au

Pictured: Rocker Dave Gleeson, Our Watch ambassador Khadija Gbla, former senator and domestic violence campaigner Natasha Stott Despoja, Kornar Winmil Yunti Aboriginal Corporation CEO Craig Rigney and Crows AFLW player Chelsea Randall have each signed the open letter to take a stand against domestic violence. Image by Matt Turner sourced via The Advertiser

About Our Watch

Our Watch is a national leader in Australia’s work to stop violence against women and their children before it starts. The organisation was created to drive nation-wide change in the practices, norms and structures that lead to violence against women and children.

Find out more about our work to end violence against women in Australia.

The evidence
Woman holding baby.