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Addressing gendered violence in Australia

  • 01 April 2021
Content warning: This article discusses family and sexual violence. We don’t want to admit the truth of who we are as a nation: there are Australians who are violent toward the people they say they love the most. Living among us are those who take what they want, out of entitlement, privilege and the naked use of power.

Almost 10 Australian women a day are hospitalised for assault injuries perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner. In the year that the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) made that stat, 2019, 3,600 women hospitalised for assault injuries identified a spouse or domestic partner as the perpetrator.

The Oz social media phenomenon Destroy the Joint reports that 63 Australian women died from family violence in 2019, and 55 in 2020. This year? At the time of writing we have lost nine Australia women. A different site, Impact, states that, at the time of writing, 17 Australians have been killed through family violence.

Those lists do not even begin to include those who are suffering from lifelong physical, emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual limitations and pain brought on by the experience of physical assault, sexual abuse and rape. Nor do they address the relational impact on those who with friends and relatives who have survived it or been lost to it.

The violent abuse of power in our homes, in our governments, is being laid bare. It begs the questions how many have suffered during a plague that shut many of us into confined quarters with abusers.

When I interviewed Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton in his final week before retiring in June 2020; he listed mental health issues as coming second as a ‘statistically significant issue we deal with [following] family violence’.

'We see the world and our place in it through a gendered lens. Denying the reality of that lens of experience only hides our problems.'

‘We respond to a mental health issue every 10 minutes, and our members respond to a family violence issue every seven or eight minutes,’ he added, ‘and attending issues stemming from drug addiction or substance abuse follows on from that.’

Police attend a family violence issue every seven or eight minutes. Think about that.

Last April, the ABC reported police attending family violence issues in Victoria every six minutes. Nationally, 2016 stats says police were responding to a family violence incident every two minutes.

These stats beggar description. In June 2020, based on 2019 figures,