DV Campaigners Say Hannah Clarke's Murder Shows 'We've Failed Dismally' In Fight Against Violence
As Hannah Clarke's parents grieve the loss of their daughter and three grandchildren, vigils for the murdered family are being held across Australia today where campaigners are asking 'how are we still failing' women?
Outside NSW parliament in Sydney, campaigners braved heavy rain to call for politicians to take 'real and decisive' action to address the country's family violence crisis.
It comes after Clarke and her three children, Laianah, six, Aaliyah, four, and Trey, three, were burned to death by her ex-partner, in a horrific act of domestic violence on February 19.
Two weeks later DV survivor Lisa McAdams told the group that "we lost one of our own".
"And when you are us, losing one of your own is horrible. But not only that, we lost children," McAdams told the survivors, politicians and advocates as they huddled together under umbrellas.
"I don't sleep at the moment," she said.
"What I think of is Hannah -- a mummy -- laying on the floor, burning to death, knowing how [her] babies feel is exactly the same."
McAdams said the deaths struck close to home. Like other survivors, she said that she knows the "hell" Clarke went through on the morning of her death.
"It wasn't a one-off," she said.
"Just imagine: they [the children] got in the car, and their mummy -- not Hannah Clarke, not their mother, their mummy -- strapped them in. Why did she strap them in the car? Because a mummy's job is to keep her babies safe. And she was doing what she could."
On average, one woman a week is murdered by a current or former partner in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Campaigner Nadine Taylor told the crowd almost half of the 31,435 Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO) taken out in NSW between October 2017 and September 2018 had been breached (15,647).
ABS data shows most violence against women and children is driven by gender inequality and Australian women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner.
The latest ABS statistics, released on Wednesday, show domestic violence-related assaults recorded by police in NSW have increased by five per cent in the last two years.
Hayley Foster, CEO of Women's Safety NSW, said the murder of Clarke and her children has left advocates "scrambling" to make sense of what happened.
"How is it that we have a mother who is absolutely in fear of her life, trying everything she possibly can to seek help, and the systems we have set up to protect her have failed her?" Foster claimed.
"We are all trying so hard. I know ourselves -- the services we work with -- are trying so hard to get this right and yet we’ve failed dismally. How is it that we are still failing?"
Foster said she and other experts were "appalled" when they were asked to bring "fresh" ideas to a meeting of state and territory women's safety ministers.
She said the focus should be on listening to experts and adequately funding the family violence crisis.
"We are throwing pennies at this. The reality is, we shouldn’t be asking the question anymore, what do we need to do to fix this?"
Women's Safety NSW, Women's Electoral Lobby and Doctors Against Violence Towards Women are among the advocates and community groups who have delivered suggestions to address the crisis.
They include declaring domestic violence as a national crisis, ensuring Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) are enforced and reforming the family law system to put safety first before any parent's right to contact.
Crucially, the groups said they want to see funding injected into critical services to support adults and children experiencing violence, along with programs to drive behavioural change.
"If this isn't the line in the sand, if this isn't enough, what will it take? What does another family have to go through?" McAdams asked.
"If not this, what? And if not now, when?"
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, dial 000. If you need help and advice, call 1800Respect on 1800 737 732, or Lifeline on 13 11 14. A range of domestic and family violence resources based around the country can be found here.