It is my pleasure to rise and speak on this motion, albeit a motion that reflects on the terrible and tragic death of a young woman in Melbourne, Eurydice Dixon, and I want to say my heartfelt condolences go to her friends and to her family. This was a tragic and horrific death—a death that, like every other death of any woman in a violent situation, should never have happened.
There is no doubt that, as we all know, domestic violence and family violence is a scourge in our community. It is absolutely unacceptable that on average one woman every week is dying at the hands of a partner or former partner. This is an unbearable statistic, and I’m very proud of the work that we as a committee—the member for Lindsay and other members of the committee, and of course the member for Chisholm, who is here with me—have done in making a range of recommendations to address family violence law reform in the federal context.
I do want to make this particular point, though: this terrible and tragic death did not happen in a domestic violence setting. Eurydice Dixon died at the hands of someone we understand she did not know. It was, for all we know, a psychopath. Frankly, anyone who does this is not mentally well, is psychopathic in their treatment of any other person. We all deserve, whether we are women or men, to be able to walk through the streets or through our parks in safety. Of course, that is not guaranteed, and that’s why I commend Victoria Police for the warning that they gave, saying ‘please be careful’, because at the time they gave the warning to Melburnians the alleged perpetrator of this evil act had not been arrested or caught. I remind everyone that this matter is before the courts, so we need to be very careful about what we say in relation to this terrible and tragic murder.
First of all, I want to make it clear that I commend Victoria Police. I don’t think it’s right that Victoria Police were criticised in the aftermath of this tragedy, because, frankly, whether you’re a young woman or a young man, in a dangerous situation it is perfectly appropriate for Victoria Police to issue such a warning. I know that any parent would want that warning, whether they be the parent of a young woman or a young man, or anyone, in fact, who is walking through a park where a terrible tragedy such as this had just occurred. As police have said, it is dangerous, so it is very appropriate and proper that the community should be appropriately warned.
I will reflect on an article written by Karen Matthews in The Geelong Advertiser just last Saturday, in which she made that very point. She said she found some of the sentiments to be offensive. She said,
It began with a wave of indignation by some criticising police for advising women to be mindful of their safety while walking alone at night.
She went on to write:
Now I don’t know what police were supposed to say following such an awful crime but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t, “Everything is OK, keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll be right.”
Critics also chose to ignore the fact that at that particular stage, no one had yet been apprehended and charged over the killing, so not only was the advice given by police appropriate but also vital to the protection of others.
I absolutely agree with the sentiment of Karen Matthews and many others in our community who have commended the police.
I will finish by saying I’m incredibly proud of the Turnbull government’s commitment to women’s safety. In this budget we’ve made a range of commitments. Another $54.4 million is being committed for the 1800RESPECT line for more investment in front-line workers right across the spectrum, and we will to work very hard to keep women in our community safe.
25 June 2018