House debates

Thursday, 25 February 2021


Family and Domestic Violence

4:40 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Each year, I rise in this parliament to honour the lives of women who have died in the past year through acts of violence, often by someone known to them. Tonight, I stand to honour and pay my respects to the 55 women who died last year. This equates to more than one violent death every week in 2020. Regrettably, the actual number is likely to be much higher, as the list is limited to deaths that have been publicly reported.

The confronting reality for so many women during the coronavirus pandemic is that they were trapped in their homes with their abusers. In July, a survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology revealed that almost 10 per cent of Australian women in a relationship had experienced domestic violence during the COVID-19 crisis. Two-thirds of those women said that the attacks started or became worse during the pandemic. For women with previous experience of physical or sexual violence, 50 per cent said the abuse had become more frequent or more severe since the start of the pandemic.

Before I acknowledge each woman who is no longer with us, I want to acknowledge the researchers from Destroy the Joint, who do the heartbreaking and difficult work of maintaining the Counting Dead Women register, where this information is recorded.

In Australia in 2020, we lost the following women: Jingai 'Mimi' Zhang, aged 49; Rebecca Walker, aged 45; Ms Bodak; Zoe Antill, aged 86; Maria Ratke, aged 71; Abbey Forrest, aged 19, and her daughter, Ivy, 19 days; Channa Tep, aged 42; Samr Dawoodi, aged 42; Celeste Manno, aged 23; Lisa Hund, aged 36; Lynda Greenwood, aged 39; Sabah Hafiz, aged 23; Kate Bell, aged 31; Chelsea Ireland, aged 19; Aysha Baty, aged 31; Carol Ann Cameron, aged 63; Daiane Pelegrini, aged 32; Najma Carroll, aged 33; Elaine Pandilovski, aged 44; Roselyn Staggard, aged 67; Liqun Pan, aged just 19; Karen Gilliland, aged 42; Emerald Wardle, aged 18; Gabriella Delaney, aged 20; Ruth Mataafa, aged 22; Karen Leek, aged 69; Kamaljeet Sidhu, aged 27; Loris Puglia, aged 59; Britney Watson, aged 18; Erlinda Songcuan, aged 69; Ella Price, aged 26; Jacqueline Sturgess, aged 45; Kobie Parfitt, aged 43; Lesley Taylor, aged 64; Kim Murphy, aged 35; Maree Collins, aged 67; Ann Marie Smith, aged 54; Hannah Clarke, aged 31, who died with her three children, Aaliyah, aged 6, Laianah, aged 4, and Trey, aged 3; Alexis Parkes, aged 50; Noeline Dalzell, aged 49; Maude Steenbek, aged 61; Ruqia Haidari, aged 20; Christine Neilan, aged 39; Kimberley McRae; and another 11 unnamed women.

Each of these shocking and painful deaths is a tragedy, and each death should further galvanise us, as political leaders, to do absolutely everything we can to end this scourge in our nation. In the year 2021, we have already seen five women lose their lives as a result of violence. I don't want to stand here every year reciting the names of women who have been violently murdered, but I will because each and every one of them must be remembered. Their deaths cannot be in vain. We have to stop violence against women and children, and we need to do it urgently.