Murder of Hannah Clarke

Angered by yet another murder of a woman, Hannah Clarke, by a violent male partner, Abigail used her Private Members Statement to call out the Government on their inaction in addressing the sexual violence epidemic and to demand immediate steps to prevent the murder of another woman and their family.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (15:01:32): On Wednesday last week 31-year-old Hannah Clarke and her three children were brutally and horrifically murdered by Rowan Baxter, her estranged husband and the children's father. Hannah was the eighth woman to be murdered by her partner or former partner in Australia this year, with a Townsville woman tragically becoming the ninth woman murdered, stabbed to death on Saturday. Last year 61 women were murdered—over one a week every year, a statistic that has held true year after year without improvement.

We have all seen the initial media response to the murder of Hannah and her children. Articles that prioritised platforming the career successes of a murderer and headlines that spoke about death by car fire rather than death by violent man could be found on just about every front page. This deeply disturbing trend props up the abuse apologism we see spewed by opportunistic senators, fraudulent Order of Australia award recipients and the law enforcers tasked with protecting us. Australia has a cultural problem with domestic violence and it does not exist in a vacuum.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke in the Federal Parliament condemning the abuse of Hannah and her children and asking, "How does such evil happen on our land?" Such evil occurs because consecutive governments like his and indeed this Government of New South Wales do not consider the ending of domestic violence a high enough priority to warrant the loosening of their purse strings. In New South Wales the Government pays lip‑service to the importance of domestic violence services while failing to deliver meaningful change, instead shuffling money from one pot to another and calling it a funding increase. The reality is that this just would not be happening on the watch of a government that prioritised the safety of women and children. At the Federal level last year the Coalition Government claimed that ending domestic violence is one of its top priorities, only months before it completely defunded the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum, the national peak body supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim-survivors of domestic violence.

On Monday Scott Morrison said, "Everything we have done across this country to protect women and children didn't protect Hannah and her children from this evil." It is not easy to find the right words to speak to the lives of women and children murdered but it has proved easier for countless governments to do this than to find the money to save these same lives. The platitudes of consecutive State and Federal governments are killing women and children. We cannot accept empty words in the place of meaningful action. The domestic and family violence epidemic requires serious funding; serious attention from a single, dedicated section of this Government focused on both prevention and providing the services women need when they are fleeing their would-be murderers; and serious, well-funded efforts to change our culture in Australia.

Read the full transcript on Hansard here.

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