2020 ‘most horrific year’ with 56 women killed by violence

 

SUNSHINE COAST DAILY 

MADDIE MANWARING

16th May 2021 5:00 AM
 

Domestic violence offences continue to rise in Australia following an "horrific" 2020 during which 56 women were killed by violence.

Researchers from gender equality movement Destroy the Joint report that the number of known deaths caused by violence against women in 2021 now stands at 12.

In the Sunshine Coast district alone, there were 668 domestic violence protection order breaches between January and April.

Coast-based domestic violence lawyer Belinda Robinson says it's time to step up the fight against domestic violence and abuse against women.

"2020 has been the most horrific year for domestic violence that any of us working in this sector have now ever experienced," Ms Robinson said.

"Across Australia, sexual assaults, physical assaults, threats to kill, strangulation, serious head injuries and Domestic Violence Order breaches have escalated exponentially due to COVID-19 restrictions, unemployment and financial stress.

"Domestic violence is an intergenerational, deep seated, multifaceted problem in our community and it requires a comprehensive and holistic approach to address the root causes.

"We need to break the intergenerational trauma cycle and the undercurrent of systemic sexism and misogyny somewhere along the line, otherwise it is sadly never-ending."

Ms Robinson said the government, the justice system, the legal sector and the media all had a role to play in preventing domestic violence and changing the community's perception of abuse against women.

She called for "urgent" legislative reform around domestic violence order contraventions.

"A domestic violence order is just a piece of paper until the government makes changes," she said.

"We need easier and faster access to courses and educational resources for men in the community and in prisons," she said.

"There should be a mandatory court-ordered course for respondents when an order is made against them."

She also said ankle monitors need to be redesigned, allowing them to be a realistic option for defendants on bail for domestic violence charges.

"[Currently] the only way for police to know 100 per cent of the time whether the protected person is in danger or not, would be if the protected person was also monitored," she said.

"There are a number of issues with the current ankle bracelet design including the lack of clarity around whether they are monitored in real time, the loss of connection in black spot areas and the ability to self-remove them."

More than 100 passionate protesters gathered at the Sunshine Coast's March4Justice at Cotton Tree earlier this year. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Ms Robinson said breaking the domestic violence cycle started with education at a young age and called on the government to also work on domestic violence awareness programs in school curriculums.

"We need to teach children nonviolent alternatives, conflict resolution and anger management skills," she said.

"[This is] a preventive measure to stop the carrying of violent behaviour and negative attitudes towards women over to the next generation in a poisonous cycle.

"The media also plays a key role in the primary prevention of domestic violence because of its influence on public understanding of violence against women, as everything selected to appear in the news and how those individuals and events are portrayed have a profound influence.

"The media needs to improve coverage on domestic violence … and be conscious of framing it as a systemic problem rather than individual events to avoid distorting the severity of the issue."

Having worked solely in criminal and domestic law since being admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in 2015, Ms Robinson recognised there was a need for lawyers to take a more informed approach when working with victims.

"There is a lack of formal tertiary training for professionals working with victims, which is what led me to undertake a postgraduate specialist degree in domestic violence," she said.

"Trauma-informed lawyering is the practice of putting the realities of the client's traumatic experiences at the forefront and adjusting the way you practice … to attempt to create a sense of safety for domestic violence clients."

She said lawyers working in domestic violence need to also take time to address their own mental and physical health.

"Domestic violence law is known to be one of the most emotionally draining areas of law to practice, it can result in vicarious or secondary trauma or 'compassion fatigue', occurring as a result of being indirectly exposed to clients' trauma," she said.

To make legal advice more accessible for domestic violence victims, Ms Robinson has started a free legal clinic which can be attended in person, over the phone or via video.

"Domestic violence victims often struggle to access legal services due to the cost and travel," she said.

"My professional goal is to make legal advice more accessible, both financially and geographically.

"Easier access to legal advice means that more victims will be able to get help with obtaining or extending domestic violence orders and understanding their rights in relation to family or property matters.

"This means they will be better protected from perpetrators and better informed to make decisions about their circumstances.

"The more accessible we can make legal help to domestic violence victims, potentially the more victims that can be protected and the more lives that we can save."

Domestic violence victims who would like to attend the clinic can contact Ms Robinson on 0416 126 532 to register.

For 24-hour support phone Queensland's DVConnect on 1800 811 811 or MensLine on 1800 600 636, or the national hotline 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).

‘When is somebody going to do something?’: Rally for victims

SUNSHINE COAST DAILY 

MADDIE MANWARING

6th May 2021 11:15 AM

 

Seventy-five women and children have been killed in domestic violence incidents in Australia since the beginning of 2020.

On Wednesday night, more than 100 people came together at Maroochydore to honour those who have lost their lives and mark the beginning of Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month.

The Let's Grow Together event, hosted by CentaCare and the Sunshine Coast Council, invited residents to join in a march from Cornmeal Parade to Cotton Tree Park which was followed by a candlelight vigil.

After marching participants heard from domestic and family experts from CentaCare and Laurel Place, QPS Assistant Commissioner Ben Marcus and Kabi-Kabi educator and artist Dr Hope O'Chin.

Attendees were invited to place a shoe and a candle on the Cotton Tree pier to symbolise the lives lost and the audience watched as the names, age and gender of each of the 75 victims flashed across the stage.

Stacy Oehlman, Evie Beck, Jen Gould and Adam Beck from CentaCare Maroochydore marched for domestic violence victims on Wednesday.

For one attendee and Sunshine Coast domestic violence lawyer Belinda Robinson, raising awareness is an issue close to her heart.

"The last few months have been particularly horrific for domestic violence deaths in Queensland," she said.

"I would wake up to another murder-suicide in the news and think 'when is somebody going to do something?'.

"Then I realised that I am somebody. All of us are somebody."

Ms Robinson said it was important to raise awareness and educate the community and to have conversations with children, friends and families reminding them that violence against women is unacceptable.

"Tonight we are standing in solidarity for the women who suffer in silence," Ms Robinson said.

"So many victims don't talk about abuse, because they're ashamed, because no one else talks about it, no one understands what they are going through.

"We come together to advocate for the community to stand up, to speak out, to act and to remember and honour those lives that have been lost."

Assistant Commissioner Ben Marcus speaks at a domestic violence awareness rally in Maroochydore.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said domestic and family violence was an insidious scourge in any community.

"Everyone, every single person in our community has a right to feel safe," he said.

"Yet this scourge on communities continues to seep into everyday lives and impacts all ages, cultures, genders and faiths.

"This needs to stop.

"Domestic and family violence is a fundamental violation of basic human rights and I urge everyone to take a stand against it and make it stop.

"We must also never lose sight of the intergenerational impacts of domestic and family violence, with the evidence showing that a high proportion of perpetrators were victims of, or experienced, family and domestic violence as a child."

More than 100 people joined the march and vigil at Maroochydore on Wednesday to honour the 75 lives lost to domestic violence since 2020.

CentaCare Family and Relationship Services Director Di Swan said the event had been an opportunity to come together as a community and remember the women and children who lost their lives to domestic and family violence in the past year.

"It also gives the community an opportunity to reach out to services for support, and to send a clear message that domestic and family violence will not be accepted or tolerated on the Sunshine Coast," Ms Swan said.

"Our services across the Sunshine Coast focus on risk assessment, safety planning, advocacy, court support and strong collaboration with Police, Child Safety and other community agencies.

"We work towards women and children being able to stay safely in their homes where possible through formal collaborative system responses to address perpetrator accountability."

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Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony in Maleny for Domestic Violence Victims on 20 May 2021

Thank you to Speak Up Now - Help Save Lives - Maleny & Blackall Range and Maleny Neighbourhood Centre for a special evening to honour those who have died due to domestic and family violence.

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Help local domestic violence victim & her children

GoFundMe Link here

Sarah* is a single mother of 3 girls. She is currently pregnant.

Three weeks ago, a person known to her committed an alleged violent act of domestic violence against her. Sarah* has just been discharged from hospital. The person is yet to be charged by police.

As a result of the alleged domestic violence incidence, she has suffered fractured knees, a fractured pelvis, a fractured tailbone and haemorrhage bleeding around the tailbone and is wheelchair bound.

The police have advised her that it is not safe for her to return to the property.  Sarah* has one set of clothes that she was released from the hospital in and nothing else and is currently in temporary accommodation. She and her children have no clothes or possessions and will need to start their life over from scratch in hiding. All donations either monetary or physical items are extremely appreciated by this family who are very much in need of help and support at an extremely difficult and traumatic time. 

 
The clothes needed for the children are: high waisted shorts, jeans and pants, (size: girls 12 and 14), crop shirts (size: girls 12 and 14), sports bras (size: girls 12 and 14), high waist shorts and pants (size girls: size 8 and 10), size 8 and 10 girls shirts, girls winter clothing size 10 and 12, girls size 8-12 undies, singlets and PJ's (size 8 and 10), girls clothes in size 00 and 0, shoes in size girls kids size 2, shoes in size 7 (girls).

Sarah* is a size 10 and 12 in women's clothing, size 12B in bras, size 12 in underwear and size 8 in shoes.


All basic care items and non-perishable food are needed as well as baby cot sheet sets, baby towels, baby seat for the bath, baby toys (8 months plus), baby food (8 months plus), baby bottle warmer, baby bottle sterilizer, Tommee Tippee bottles (8 months+), Tommee Tippee Newborn Baby Bottles, Newborn baby clothes (Neutral Colour), Baby Blankets, Queen size Comforter Sets & Pillows.

Please contact Belinda Robinson on 0416 126 532 to donate, for further information or to offer other means of support. 

Thank you for your kind assistance and support.

*The victim's name has been changed for confidentiality and anonymity to protect the safety of the victim and her children.

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Radio Interview on Sunshine FM 104.9 about domestic violence 

Belinda Robinson 

21 May 2021

00:00 / 02:52

Radio Interview on 99.7 FM about domestic violence 

Belinda Robinson

5 March 2018

Tune in to listen here: http://www.liveonlineradio.net/australia/99-7-bridge-fm.htm

Speaking about women and domestic violence on 5 March for Women’s Week

Belinda Robinson Shows Her Compassion This Christmas

13 December 2016

Solicitor Belinda Robinson teamed up with Sunnykids’ Najidah homelessness service in Nambour to deliver essential goods and toys to families facing homelessness this holiday period.

Belinda wanted to do something special for a charity this Christmas. Given the scourge of domestic violence that has been in the public eye, she turned her efforts towards helping children and their mothers.

Belinda predominately practises in criminal law and is experienced with seeing the most disadvantaged of the Sunshine Coast’s community. For this reason, she wanted to give back in a meaningful and helpful way.

Najidah is Sunnykids’ premiere service which provides housing and support to those who have been left homeless as a result of family and domestic violence.

After doing some research on which Sunshine Coast charities provide real support back to the community, Belinda discovered Sunnykids and the work it does to help those who have survived domestic and family violence.  Her original plan was to donate a modest amount of household and necessary items to those families facing crisis this holiday period. She hoped that the donation would at least promote some Christmas cheer to those children and their families who are struggling.

Belinda’s initiative saw an overwhelming amount of donations given to Sunnykids.

On 13 December 2016 Belinda delivered a carload full of wrapped packages which were filled with non-perishable food, blankets, toiletries and children’s toys. Sunnykids were over the moon and hopefully Belinda’s cheer will spread to encourage others to give generously this holiday season.

Belinda is still receiving donations on behalf of Sunnykids, and donations. Otherwise, donations can be given directly to Sunnykids by contacting them on 07 5479 0394 or by email admin@sunnykids.org.au.

Belinda’s goodwill has been contagious as we have seen most of the lawyers and staff here generously donate boxes of essentials for those facing crisis this Christmas. We hope that Belinda’s charity catches on in the broader community across the Sunshine Coast.

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