Many Victorians would remember the death of Luke Batty in 2014, killed by his father at a cricket pitch. This unthinkable act became a watershed moment in Victoria’s journey towards family violence reform. Along with a string of other high profile incidents, it served as a call to action.
The Victorian Government went on to announce Australia’s only Royal Commission into Family Violence.
After listening to the voices of survivors, advocates and professionals, the Commissioners made 227 recommendations. The Government committed to implementing all of them, and developed a 10-year blueprint to combat family violence. Since 2016, 90 of the recommendations have been implemented.
But the future of this wide-ranging, game changing reform could depend on who wins the state election. While Victorian Labor and the Greens have both committed to ensuring that the remaining recommendations are implemented in the next term of government, the Liberal Party has stopped short of this commitment, citing the need to identify whether efficiencies can be realised.
Family violence advocates are worried at the slowing momentum, and meanwhile the death toll keeps climbing.
This year alone, 60 women have been killed, including 18 women in Victoria. Between 2014 and 2015, eight women and two men were hospitalised each day after assaults from a current or former partner. In a 10-year period in Australia, 238 children were victims of family violence homicides.
And then there are the injuries that can’t be seen, the mental health illnesses rooted in trauma.
In response to this continuing crisis, Luke’s mum Rosie Batty has suggested we ditch the term family violence, and call it terrorism.
“When we think of terrorism we think of how awful it would be to have a gun to our head,” Ms Batty said.
“When we see it on the streets in the most barbaric of ways we are horrified and don’t ever want that to happen to us — that is happening now, in people’s homes.”
In Victoria we have a roadmap in place to deal with this crisis. The Royal Commission’s 227 recommendations weren’t thought bubbles. They were based on research, professional expertise and solutions from survivors and experts. They give us a strategy for broad, systemic reform encompassing crisis response, early intervention and primary prevention to bring about social and cultural change.
This is not the time for cherry picking. These reforms must continue, regardless of who wins the state election.
Victorians must remember what brought about the 2014 Royal Commission into Family Violence and we must stick to the plan. Lives depend on it.