(The Age, 17 September 2014)
Violence against women has featured in the media a lot lately – and about time. After decades of hard, often invisible, slog by a dedicated community sector; and after quiet growth in understanding at a policy level; governments have started treating men's violence against women with the gravity it deserves. Leaders at all levels have committed to a 12-year national plan, resources have been allocated to an evidence base and, as Victoria's Chief Commissioner of Police has observed, gendered violence is finally on political agendas.
To varying degrees all around Australia, progress is being made. Laws have acknowledged the different forms that violence can take; reporting of both sexual and family violence has increased exponentially, particularly in Victoria, with courts striving to support victims and hold perpetrators to account as best they can. Cross-agency teams are pooling information and assessing risk; and police are responding more quickly at the frontline. Meanwhile, devastating, inexplicable, homicides – on cricket pitches, in laneways and in car parks, as well as suburban homes – have forced a once reluctant media to grapple not only with the extremes of violence against women and their children, but our apparent inability to prevent its escalation
Rob Hulls is director, Centre for Innovative Justice, RMIT University.