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  • Eugene McGarrell

Women and children deserve to be safe




Thoughts and prayers won't cut it.


As a man reaching my 59th birthday I am still coming to terms with the inherent privileges I have and continue to enjoy. The career wins, financial rewards and freedom from the mental workload for home logistics and child rearing.


Despite considering myself as a “woke leftie” from my early days in political debates and discussions I am still unpeeling the layers of assumptions about my place in this world. Boys don’t cry, fathers are the head of the family, women are home makers and children should speak when they are spoken too.


Boys don’t cry, fathers are the head of the family, women are home makers and children should speak when they are spoken to.

Most of the assumptions I carry are of course more nuanced and complex. I of course don’t logically believe that the father is the head of the family, but somewhere in my being I feel slightly disturbed if I am not the decision maker.


Down the football club with my mates I often hear varying remarks about women, girlfriends and wives. Some comments are downright misogynistic, and others are stories that demean the woman’s role in the home. I wish I could say I could say I stand up and call out every comment, but unfortunately after a beer or 2 I sometimes let the comments slide by.


I wish I could say I could say I stand up and call out every comment...

But it’s time for me to change. It’s time for us all to change.


Today’s media reporting about the murder of Hannah Baxter and her 3 children by her estranged husband has really affected me personally. How often do we need to read stories about a man killing his family because of power and control issues? Thoughts and prayers won’t do it. As a nation, as a community, as a family and as an individual it’s time to stop tolerating the power imbalance between women, children and men.


I witness how strong women in our communities set up shelters for women escaping violence. I note how women set up and run organisations to protect women and children from men. And I see how these women struggle for government and community funding to run and maintain these services. But most are surviving day to day. They are the heroes.

As a nation, as a community, as a family and as an individual it’s time to stop tolerating the power imbalance between women, children and men.

But these services are not even close to being enough. How many women are stuck at home with an abusive partner? How many children are living in abusive families because there is no way out? We don’t know, but many will be known to each of us. Why would we want to sustain the status quo? Is it possible that some men in power enjoy the status quo?

Is it possible that some men in power enjoy the status quo?

It’s time to for real change. It’s time for real investment. It’s time for bipartisan action to create a safer world for women and children. And that change won’t happen unless there is serious political will to disrupt the ongoing institutional violence, aggression and abuse.


There will be push back from people choosing to see the man’s perspective. Yes, we know some men are subject to violence in the home, but the figures do not compare with the violence to women and children. Our attention needs to be focused on the bigger issue.

And that change won’t happen unless there is serious political will to disrupt the ongoing institutional violence, aggression and abuse.

Let’s get significant funding to support the current services in place, to boost service capacity and to advocate for women and children’s safety. Let’s have a national summit to co-ordinate Federal, State, Territory and local government agency action, to change how the media report and to change the narrative about gender power and control and child protection.


It’s time to focus. It’s time to invest. It’s time to prioritise.


Let’s avoid another tragedy.

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