Wagga men must kickstart communal conversation around domestic violence: opinion

IT CASTS a deathly shadow of shame over our community, and yet we rarely utter its name.

Domestic violence is this nation’s great unspeakable, a crime so deeply entrenched in our culture we rarely pause to consider it.

Today, we must pause.

We must consider how profoundly the scourge of family violence affects victims and those who love them.

And we must acknowledge a seismic cultural shift is needed in the way this community confronts violence in the home.

The host of events and ceremonies set down for White Ribbon Day proves those tectonic plates are starting to move in Wagga.

Just as the Australian male’s notion of a king hit has changed to a coward punch in recent years, so too must the idea that “belting the missus” is anything but an act of pure cowardice.

And the men of this community must also acknowledge turning a blind eye to domestic violence is as bad as committing the act itself.

The numbers alone paint a bleak picture.

Each day in Wagga, police attend between nine and 14 call-outs for domestic violence-related issues.

Domestic violence remains the largest killer of Australian women of child-bearing age.

Staggeringly, three out of every four women murdered perish at the hands of an intimate partner.

Given the statistics show we are in the grip of a women’s health crisis, why are we so strangely silent on the issue of people being beaten in their homes? 

While we fixate on Wagga’s drug menace and property theft spate, there is a far larger issue staring us in the face.

Of course, numbers only tell part of the story.

The real cost of domestic violence is measured in the lives lost and spirits broken.

We can no longer close our eyes to this issue and hope it goes away.

Today, you owe it to your family and your community to open your eyes and help kickstart the conversation about domestic violence. And it’s the men of Wagga that must lead the conversation.

Police, courts and all levels of government must also heed the call and better respond to this growing epidemic.

Together, we can and will make a difference.

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