Fight against family abuse needs a royal commission
- Herald Sun
- August 04, 2014
One woman dies every week at the hands of her current or former partner. One in every four children witnesses violence against a parent.
Police Association secretary Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles says his members spend more than 180,000 hours a year, or 25,000 shifts, just attending to family violence.
Family violence awareness campaigns have a place, but their value has a ceiling if the system is broken. And our system is. It doesn’t protect the vulnerable, punish the guilty or save enough lives. I’ll be criticised for saying that but I don’t care.
That’s why we always witness these tragedies hours too late, on the evening news: the short films of our greatest failure.
I’ll never forget how I felt, a few months ago, when I heard what had happened on a suburban cricket ground to an ordinary boy who loved his mum and loved his dad.
I just wanted to wake up my kids and hold them close. Nothing is more honest than the loyalty of a child and nothing hurts more than its betrayal.
When family violence is committed against women and children, it diminishes us all. Because it’s our problem. And it’s a crime.
We have to admit that if women and their children were being systematically tormented by total strangers, we would be quicker to act. We would do more.
Instead, tonight, Victoria Police will respond to about 100 incidents of violence and abuse, doing the best they can without the resources they need.
Tomorrow, many victims will be too scared to call out for help. Some will. But all of them will be let down by a system that cannot cope and cannot protect.
For some, there may be no tomorrow. And what are the politicians doing? Yes, we pose for photographs and we wear a ribbon. But we’re not asking ourselves the hard questions.
When we see these tragedies on the TV, we don’t know what to say because we don’t know what do to, either. We don’t have the answers.
That’s why a Victorian Labor government will establish Australia’s first Royal Commission into Family Violence.
The royal commission will investigate our entire system from the ground up and nothing will be off limits. It will give us the answers we need.
The commission will begin its work early next year, reporting to all Victorians by the end of 2015 and honouring the hard work of people such as Fiona McCormack, CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria, and her organisation and the dedicated men and women of Victoria Police, who all save lives.
This isn’t about lawyers. This will be no talkfest. It’s the first steps to changing the system. And a Victorian Labor government will implement its recommendations.
A royal commission is, after all, the most powerful body of inquiry in our system and this crisis is so urgent that it deserves no less than the authority of the Crown.
Recently, I visited my old school. I told the students the most important thing I’ve ever learnt: if you have the opportunity, then you have the obligation.
That time has come. We can do more and we must. I cannot promise that every family will be free of violence. But I am prepared to try.