19 April 2016

Does the ACT Government care about domestic violence… enough?

| Steven Bailey
Start the conversation

My great-grandmother experienced domestic violence for most of her life.

In front of her four children, she was continuously beaten and humiliated. As she contemplated the bleakness of her future, she bravely began to plan an escape with her children. Her two sons helped her save the money she needed in order to rescue her family from their father and begin a new life.

One night, and to the shame of society, Violet Glover gathered her children and took them as far away as possible. Luckily, her husband never found her again. Her two daughters are alive today, and her two sons died of alcoholism at early ages.

In recent times Canberrans have had to confront the ugly truth that domestic violence is just as much alive as it was in the days of my great grandmother. With the deaths of Tara Costigan, Neal Wilkinson, Sabah Al-Mdwali and Daniela D’Addario, and the terrifying statistic that two Australian women die every week due to domestic violence, Canberra has a lot to mourn. The question is, what are we going to do about it?

Early childhood assessor Diane Whitlock evaluates the living conditions and family situations children below the age of 12 and says that violence is a behaviour that is learnt.

“No child is inherently violent. Children, and therefor people become violent as a reaction to either neglect, trauma, or a normalisation of violent behaviour from others, or a combination of all,” she says.

Intimate partner domestic violence can occur over a long period of time. A partner may act in a threatening manner and if that partner is not sufficiently reprimanded, the behaviour can become normalised. The partner may then continue to increase the level of intimidating behaviour until eventually, a life of domestic violence is the norm.

Canberra’s sentiments have not only been echoed by politicians and community leaders, but have been galvanised by actions and calls for legislative change. While it would be wrong of me to suggest that the words of our current politicians are disingenuous, it is only fair that Canberrans ask what new practical measures are being taken to eliminate domestic violence in our community.

The ACT currently has no domestic violence prevention programs running in our primary schools.

YWCA Canberra is seeking $200,000 of funding per year from the ACT Government to deliver the Respect, Communicate, Choose (RCC) program in all public primary schools in the ACT”.

According to YWCA, “primary prevention is the only way we can enact a cultural change to build a generation free from violence against women, and currently there are no programs in schools that address this community-wide problem.”

Canberrans have the right to ask the ACT Government where its priorities really lie. Our Government is prone to gimmickry – $800,000 worth of temporary shipping containers, a roof top bar and a street basketball court, a multi-bosomed balloon and a noodle market, I would say that perhaps that perhaps it’s time for the adults to be in charge… but that would be a cliché, and I don’t see any adults.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.