In the Aussie suburbs right now, are 12 Aussie women, probably living in fear, who won't survive the next three months. Here's why.
Out in the Australian suburbs and currently alive are 12 women who will be murdered by their partners, ex-partners or a male acquaintance over the next three months.
Before politicians get together for a domestic violence summit in late July, it is all but certain around a dozen women, probably right now living in fear and under Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) which cannot protect them, will die.
It's an established statistic that one Australian woman each week is killed by a violent, controlling male she knows, and this is the subject of the Canberra summit in about 12 weeks.
This alarming fact, established by a landmark 2018 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, is Australia's domestic violence crisis, unchanged today.
And just one tiny change of the law could help stop the rampage by obsessive males bent on killing.
Most Australians have heard of Hannah Clarke, whose estranged husband stabbed her and set on fire her three children in their vehicle in a suburban Brisbane street.
And, just last month, of Kelly Wilkinson, whose burnt body was found in her Gold Coast backyard, her three children aged under 9 inside the house, but mercifully alive.
Members of Wilkinson's family claimed she had spoken with police "almost every day" about concerns for her own safety in the weeks before her death.
Wilkinson's ex-partner, Brian Johnston, has been charged with her murder.
But have you heard of Doreen Langham, a woman dubbed "the best mum in the world", whose body was found in her fire-gutted townhouse on February 25?
Two weeks beforehand, 49-year-old Langham had taken out a DVO out against her ex-partner, changed the locks, then called triple-0 when he turned up just hours before the fire.
His body was found next to hers in the charred wreckage of what police say was a deliberately lit fire and a murder-suicide.
Then there's Celeste Manno, killed in northeastern Melbourne last November days before her 24th birthday, allegedly by a man she once tried to help.
Manno had been the team leader of Luay Nader Sako, 35, at a Serco call centre in South Morang, Melbourne, when he was fired in 2019 and had comforted him before he left.
He had then allegedly become "obsessed" with her, contacting her via Instagram and dozens of online accounts until she took out an interim order against him.
Police allege he broke into her home as she slept, smashed a bedroom window and stabbed her before fleeing via a side fence.
Or what about Elaine Pandilovski who was allegedly killed inside her own home at Mill Park, Melbourne, in July last year and her body dumped underneath the house.
A mother of one and a special needs teaching aide at her neighbourhood primary school, Pandilovski had separated from her husband and former high-school sweetheart, Zoran.
Police allege he murdered her and then was involved in a car crash that injured two people on the same day.
Zoran Pandilovski has pleaded not guilty to murder and two counts of reckless conduct placing a person in danger of death.
Most people have heard of the Edwards family, Olga and her teenage children, Jack and Jennifer, both 15, and their murderous vengeful father, John.
On July 5, 2018, John Edwards shot dead Jack and Jennifer at their West Pennant Hills home and then killed himself, knowing he had destroyed what his ex-wife loved most.
Five months later, Olga took her own life at the age of 37.
It was revealed at the inquest that the independent children's lawyer representing Jack and Jennifer had worked to keep the teens in contact with their father, despite their expressed fear of him.
The lawyer was only obeying the Family Law Act, which required her to tell Olga that unless she encouraged her children's contact with their father, the lawyer would recommend the court award him custody.
The Family Law Act has a presumption of shared contact between parents, no matter how violent or threatening one of them has been.
This is despite the fact, domestic violence legal experts say, that the majority of child custody and family matters involve domestic violence.
Statistics of Australian "intimate partner violence" show 79 per cent of these homicides are males killing females, 18 per cent are women killing men and 1.9 per cent are men killing a male partner.
Women's Legal Services Queensland CEO, Angela Lynch said forcing mothers to share custody of their children with violent and threatening partners only puts them in the firing line to be killed or hurt.
Lynch, who called for action but got none after the Hannah Clarke and children murders, told news.com.au that the law has failed to keep up with the increase of violence being a factor.
She said the Family Law Act today would still deliver the Edwards children into their father's deadly hands.
One small change to the Family Law Act could change all that, by removing the presumption of equal access to children by their fathers.
But Lynch said if the law was applied on a case-by-case basis, when violence was involved automatic access to children could be refused.
She said this would not necessarily overburden the system, and might in fact streamline it by removing children from the violent man's zone or orbit, and decreasing the likelihood of breached AVOs.
She said the Australian Institute of Family Studies in a 2018 report, had deduced that 85 per cent of all Family Law Court matters involved domestic violence.
After every well-publicised domestic murder, as happened after Hannah Clarke was murdered, frightened women flood DV helplines reporting violent partners' renewed threats to finally "get it over with" and kill them.
As Australia's domestic violence situation escalates, there are growing calls for Canberra politicians to acknowledge it is a crisis and act instead of planning "another talkfest".
On social media, the hashtag #Hernameis, which trended on Twitter in the wake of several brutal murders of young women – albeit committed by strangers – has been taken up by anti-DV activists.
Political hopeful Bethany Williams, a women's rights advocate who was a candidate in last year's ACT election, has challenge Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Twitter to take action.
Following Kelly Wilkinson's violent death last month, Williams tweeted, "Kelly's burnt, tied up body was found in her home, with three children under nine inside.
"When will #FEMICIDE #COERCIVECONTROL and #DOMESTICVIOLENCE be a priority for you, @ScottMorrisonMP?
"Or are you only able to give meaningless platitudes?"
In response, @drmavrds posted on Twitter: "How about the government establishing a 'war footing' about this epidemic of #FEMICIDE?
"The horror. Those poor children will be haunted by this by the end of their days. may she RIP."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison came under fire in 2020 for cutting domestic violence funding while attending the funeral of Hannah Clarke and her children.
The head of a Queensland task force into domestic and family violence has recommended an independent examination into the way police responded to Kelly Wilkinson before her death.
The Women's Safety and Justice Taskforce is examining whether coercive control can be a specific domestic violence offence, and the experiences of women across the criminal justice system.
The family of Celeste Manno have established a petition on change.org to draw attention to the fact "that violence against women has been an increasing issue in our world today". "Violence against women resulting in death has been increasing. Many of these deaths can be prevented by introducing stringent laws to ensure that victims are protected," the petition says.
It asks for "insufficient" laws to be changed so that women can be protected against stalking.
After Doreen Langham's death last year in an apparent murder-suicide carried out by the ex-partner she feared, police announced her efforts to protect herself with police help would be examined.
Less than two weeks before the fatal fire, Beenleigh Magistrates Court granted Langham a temporary protection order against Gary Hely, the man whose body she was found next to.
Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said a review would aim to "establish a timeline" from the first time Langham intersected with police.
"We have not been able to protect her," he said.
He said domestic violence continued to be a scourge on the community, with police dealing with more than 105,000 occurrences in the last year in Queensland.
"This tells you the quantum of this problem for our community.
"And despite (Queensland Domestic Violence programme) Not Now, Not Ever, and despite what we've learnt and seen in other instances such as Tara Brown and Hannah Clarke and her children, here we are again," he said.
Tara Brown was bashed to death with a fire hydrant in 2015 by her violent bikie ex-partner and father of her child, Lionel Patea.
Brown sensed she was in grave danger a week before she was bashed to death by Patea who had intimidated her for days and then ran her off the road before killing her.
Patea bashed her to death with the cover of a fire hydrant.
He pleaded guilty in 2017 and was sentenced to life in prison.
If you're in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay.
Where to go for help or more information:
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz
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