/ 26 April 2024

A horrible crisis point


The Squiz 

A sharp rise in the number of women being murdered by men – many allegedly known to them – has prompted Domestic Violence Commissioner Micaela Cronin to call an emergency national roundtable on 7 May. Shocking new cases that have made headlines this year underscore the data – 11 more Australian women have been killed so far in 2024 than at the same time last year. Cronin says “tolerance for that is coming to an end” and that “things need to change”. She says stakeholders at the roundtable will review the Federal Government’s National Plan to End Domestic Violence and look at whether policy changes need to be made. “We need to know that the investments and the efforts that government and the community are making are impacting on that target,” she said.

What cases are we talking about?

The death of Molly Ticehurst, a 28yo childcare worker and mum living in Forbes in NSW’s Central West, is one that’s been in the headlines in a big way. Her body was found on Monday and her ex-partner, 29yo Daniel Billings, has been charged with her murder. Billings was out on bail at the time, having already been accused of “3 serious indictable offences” – including sexually assaulting Molly. The NSW Attorney-General Michael Daley is reviewing the circumstances of his release from custody. Meanwhile, 39yo John Torney was charged with assault and causing injury after the body of 49yo Emma Bates was found in the Victorian town of Cobram on Tuesday. And then there’s what has happened in the Ballarat region this year – Samantha Murphy, Rebecca Young and Hannah McGuire were all allegedly killed by men.

So what can be done?

In Molly’s case, her father Tony says if Billings hadn’t been given bail, his daughter would still be alive. “If they’d have kept him in jail as the police wanted, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” he said. And given the connections between several of the accused men and the court system, there have been calls for bail law reform, including from NSW Premier Chris Minns yesterday. He says the system “obviously failed” Molly and that the government has “an obligation to protect victims of crime”. But DV campaigner Rosie Batty doesn’t believe that bail reform is a fix-all, saying victims are “only truly safe if the perpetrator decides to no longer be abusive and violent”. She’s calling for an immediate change to the language we use – she says domestic and family violence situations would be taken more seriously if perpetrators were labelled “intimate partner terrorists”.

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