Terror in the home

Rosie Batty

We see whenever there is the slight threat of terrorism it’s amazing how funding can be found to combat that where seemingly there was no funding before.

Let’s start calling family violence terrorism and then maybe we can start to see funding flowing to this area.
Rosie Batty, news.com.au

In recent times, there have been two deaths that may be attributable to terrorism on Australian soil, although we will have to wait for the outcome of the inquiry into the siege at Sydney’s Lindt Cafe to say that with some certainty. The information available to us so far indicates those deaths may just as well be attributable to the unmanaged mental illness of Man Horan Monis.

Since the 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing there have been 113 Australian victims of terrorism worldwide, including Australians killed overseas and non-Australians killed in Australia, such as the 1980 murder of the Turkish Consul-General in Sydney.

Perhaps we have been lucky, or the estimated 1.2 billion dollars we spend each year on counterterrorism is money well spent. We will never know and, admittedly, it’s not something I would like to experiment with in the current global environment, even though some experts think the threat is overblown:

According to Clive Williams, lecturer on terrorism studies at Macquarie University, you’ve got more chance of being knocked down by a car then being exposed to a terrorist attack.
Experts: Australians more at risk of being hit by a car than witnessing terrorist attack on home soil, news.com.au (10 September 2014)

The Australian Government certainly can’t be accused of not taking the matter seriously, or not allocating enough money or enacting the necessary legislation to deal with the issue. Last year a further $600 million was allocated over the next four years for agencies involved in counter-terrorism activity and Parliament passed new national security laws. In February this year the Prime Minister appointed our first ‘terrorism czar’.

On the other hand, there is a very real epidemic taking countless lives in Australia. Even though murder rates have been steadily declining in Australia, every week two women are killed in domestic violence incidents.

Were that rate to hold, the number of women killed in domestic violence incidents each year would roughly be the same as the number of Australian victims of terrorism, globally, over almost forty years. If two Australians were murdered by terrorists each week, the outrage would be white-hot. Why can’t we muster the same level of outrage over women being hurt and murdered in domestic violence incidents, and sustain that outrage?

In light of these numbers, it is difficult to understand why this issue is not receiving consistent national attention and, more importantly, tangible action.

Where is the ‘domestic violence czar’?

Where is the legislative response to crack down on perpetrators?

Where is the funding for prevention and support?

The funding that’s currently allocated to the issue can only be described as paltry, especially when considering the number of victims each week, each month, each year. Yes, the issue is being discussed. But those discussion are sporadic and appear to happen only when yet another tragic death occurs, and the subject then usually disappears from public view very quickly.

So I ask: if the idea of Australians being murdered by terrorists on Australian soil is so abhorrent we can devote billions of dollars to combating terrorism, and we can pass legislation after legislation to empower agencies to help them prevent such occurrences ever taking place, why can’t we do more about two women a week actually being murdered in Australia as a result of domestic violence?!

I acknowledge terrorism presents a threat to our way of life, and I support the Government in taking reasonable action to prevent acts of terrorism. But how about also doing (much) more to address and prevent real crimes that are being committed now, every week, taking the lives of our mothers, sisters and daughters?!

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