Normally I’m a lot more upbeat aboutInternational Women’s Day celebrations, but with the news of Preethi Reddy’s death hanging over the news cycle the day is a bit more grim this year.
Preethi was the 11th woman killed violently in Australia since 2019 began. Her body was found stuffed into a suitcase in the back of her car on Tuesday, but there’s actually already been another death ruled as murder since then – the death of 92-year-old Marjorie Welsh, who was allegedly stabbed to death by her house cleaner. We’re in the 10th week of the year, and 12 women have lost their lives to violence.
On Monday, March 4, Prime Minister Scott Morrison got up and announced the government would be putting $328 million towards programs aimed at reducing – and ultimately ending – domestic violence in Australia. He waved around a report called “Our Investment In Women’s Safety”, which has a lovely picture of a woman twirling her way through a sunlit field on the cover. Personally, I think a report about murdered women featuring a picture of any sort of field is unfortunate at best, but I’m not here to nitpick the work of some poor intern who was tasked with digging through Shutterstock for a ‘happy dancing woman’ stock image. I’m here to nitpick the announcement itself.
Violence against women & children is unacceptable, in any shape or form. Our Government’s first priority is to keep Australians safe. That’s why today I’ve announced the largest ever Commonwealth investment of $328m for prevention & frontline services to reduce domestic violence. pic.twitter.com/37JwpfLTMq
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) March 5, 2019
Back in 2017, the Coalition was forced to abandon its attempt to cut $35 million in funding for community legal centres due to a huge amount of backlash. Community legal centres are frontline stops for people fleeing domestic abuse and are already constantly under financial pressure. As if that wasn’t bad enough, that 2017 attempt at cutting funding was the second shot the government had taken. In 2015, the Abbott Government did a very similar backflip on their promise to cut $25 million from the sector.
Both of these attempted cuts were made during times when the Government was secure in their position – right in the middle of their terms, when they weren’t having to worry about any pesky upcoming elections. This cheery announcement of more funding towards domestic violence prevention comes about two months before a federal election, and after a series of unfortunate missteps for the Government. Remember the Menidee fish kills, the Banking Royal Commission, and the historic vote loss? Yeah, ScoMo needs something good to talk about.
Scott Morrison's trip to Christmas Island this week was met with a new level of cynicism within the media, and that reporting impacts on the effect, says @barriecassidy
— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) March 7, 2019
Breaking down the funding, this package includes $82 million for frontline services, $68 million for prevention strategies and $78 million for safe places for family violence sufferers.
These numbers are a good start, but I can’t stop thinking about that $444 million that the Government gave to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation under sketchy circumstances, or the $1.4 billion spent reopening the Christmas Island Detention Centre. Priorities.
Maybe I’m skeptical. The Government has also announced plans to prevent victims of domestic violence being forced to face their attackers in person during cross examination in a courtroom, as well as offering victims early access to some of their superannuation. I actually really hope I’m wrong, and this announcement is the start of a lot of good work, and Australia can start bringing our ‘One Woman A Week’ statistic down to zero. Wouldn’t that be an International Women’s Day miracle?