Ladies and gentlemen

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are under attack. In our country, a silent war is being waged, injuring up to half a million innocent Australians every 12 months. 85000 of those are a victim of more than 6 counts. But, less than twenty percent admit to being a victim. Up to half of homicides in some states are as a result of this backroom killer, claiming 100 innocent lives across Australia each year. Most of those, women.

Those statistics are from the ABS, and you’re probably thinking they’re the result of gang violence or random assaults. They’re not. These are the statistics of domestic violence, a taboo issue in our society, where the conversation is shut up for fear of weakness or insecurity. It is literally a crime behind closed doors.

Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot think of anything more sickening than abusing someone you love. What state of mind do you have to be in to perceive harming your psignificant other as an act of affection? Violence of any form should not be accepted in our modern society, nor should it be locked away as an allowable social norm. We should be better than that.

The vast majority of people here tonight are probably thinking “Well, this is bad, but surely if it was bad enough the victims would report it to escape abuse”. Stockholm syndrome, or a feeling of trust and affection towards a malefactor, is ultimately comparable to what happens to victims of abuse by their loved ones. It prevents them from actively seeking help. They believe the abuse is their fault, that they’ve done something wrong and that they deserve it. Or for some it’s a fear of what would happen if they did say something.

I could not think of anything more frustrating for those on the frontline, our police force, walking into a home late at night to find a young boy or girl cowering in a corner, with a bloodied face and deep wounds down to the bone claiming they were self-inflicted out of extreme fear. Often, the next call to that home is a homicide. Or an ambulance officer, tending to the wounds of the same person every week, getting progressively more severe. It’s not just the victims that are affected, it’s everyone involved that suffers.

It is our job as citizens of this nation and as human beings to change this stigma and expose domestic abuse for what it is, especially Australia’s youth. Up to 75% of all acts of domestic violence occur between the ages 18-24. As future leaders of our society and our communities it is our duty to eradicate this insolent pest and refuse to let it become something we condone. We need to take a stand.

No child of this nation should ever have to be sat down with a police officer and given a G-rated sugar coated account of the death of their mother. No child should then ever have to ask the question “My daddy did this didn’t he?” Most importantly: No child should ever see domestic violence as normal, because the moment that happens a future perpetrator has been born.

For the short time I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to you today, 4 Australians have experienced an act of domestic violence. If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. If there’s one thing I would like you to take away from this today, it’s this: A bruise may last a week, a cut a month. But the damage from domestic abuse, that lasts a lifetime. It lies with us, as citizens of Australia, whether we stop this war now, or we let it drag on until someone with enough guts does.

So I ask: are you strong enough? Have you got the guts this country needs to stop this? If you do, we’re one soldier closer to winning this war