REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: One thing COVID-19 sadly hasn't shut down

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Kelly McCosker (left) and Sharon Marony, domestic violence victims who have spoken out.

Kelly McCosker (left) and Sharon Marony, domestic violence victims who have spoken out.

Much has been written about the "unprecedented" nature of the year that was 2020. There's no escaping that it was different, very different. But not in every way.

Nothing changed on the domestic violence front in Australia. Sadly.

Hayley Foster, the chief executive of Women's Safety New South Wales, put it bluntly: "2020 will be remembered as the worst year for domestic violence that any of us who are in the sector now have ever experienced."

A couple of articles across the ACM network this week confirmed that, before another suggested not much has changed in 2021.

On the west coast, Mandurah Mail's Daniela Cooper spoke with domestic violence victim Kelly McCosker. Every which way you look at it, her story is distressing and full of hurt.

"It got to the point where I felt if I had stayed any longer, he would have killed me. That really struck some sense into me. There came a point where I realised I would either be killed by him or I was going to do something stupid to myself. I hit rock bottom," Kelly said.

"Once he threw me into the pantry, threw my head into the coffee table, I woke up an hour and a half later and he was outside smoking and laughing on the phone," she said. "I could have been dead and he was laughing."

It's not much different in the Northern Territory where Roxanne Fitzgerald of the Katherine Times told the heartbreaking story of Sharon Marony.

Ms Marony's partner is serving jail time for hitting her with a beer bottle right before Christmas.

"It was the first violent abuse in a long time," she said. "Most of the time it is verbal arguments because I speak up for my rights. But even for those I'll take off to the [Katherine Women's] Crisis Centre because I know it's safe - a lot of women do that."

And in the small, remote town of Binjari, just 15 kilometres west of Katherine, Sharon's reality is a tragically common one.

Indigenous women living in remote Australia are 45 times more likely to experience domestic violence than their white, city dwelling counterparts.

That's not to say the issue is under control in other parts of regional Australia.

Penny Dordoy, head of Community Services with Housing Plus in the NSW Central West, said demand on domestic violence resources has never been greater, with service providers "inundated with work over Christmas".

In November the service had almost 400 referrals with a further 347 the following month, the Western Advocate told its subscribers.

Domestic and family violence, just like COVID-19, isn't going anywhere. Unlike the former, we really can do something about exterminating the latter.

If you're in need of help, consider these numbers: Call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732; Lifeline 13 11 14; Men's Referral Service 1300 766 491.

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