Domestic violence stance brings results

Terror at home 2Specialised courts for domestic violence have been put on the Queensland government agenda, following a campaign by APN mastheads.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has indicated funds could be set aside in the July state budget to pay for recommendations from the government’s family violence taskforce, including the establishment of special magistrates’ courts and respectful relationship classes at high school.

Both outcomes have been the goals of the Terror at Home campaign that has run across all APN’s dailies, co-ordinated centrally by APN Newsdesk.

Ms Palaszczuk told APN’s editorial director Bryce Johns and APN Newsdesk reporter Sherele Moody in a joint interview that the matters were under consideration.

“We’re slowly getting there,” APN group content editor Christina Ongley said. “We got the closest indication yet from the Premier that we can expect some announcements in the budget.”

“This month is domestic violence month and in a few weeks’ time it will actually be three months since we launched. If we don’t start to hear some political noise soon, we’ll probably start to put the pressure on,” Ms Ongley said.

Ms Palaszczuk was handed a petition during the APN interview which had gathered thousands of signatures calling for government action.

There were 3200 signatories from across Queensland and northern NSW. The weekly Coffs Coast Advocate outstripped the larger dailies and brought in 500 signatures. “Coffs Harbour just ran it and ran it every opportunity they got,” Ms Ongley said.

While many signatories came from NSW, only the Queensland signatures were handed to the Premier at the end of last month.

The campaign has also been successful in other, more subtle, ways.

“We had a lot of people either talk directly to me or to our editors to say thank goodness someone’s finally standing up for this issue and sharing their stories. We also had a number of our own colleagues email us and say ‘this has happened to me as well, it’s really important that you guys are campaigning on this’,” Ms Ongley said.

“You never know these things are happening until these things are topical.”

Terror at Home is just one of a number of domestic violence campaigns running in newspapers across the country.

The Herald Sun’s Take A Stand push led to a royal commission into family violence being held in Victoria, as well as a commitment from the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews to look into sweeping domestic violence law reform.

The campaign and its results were described as “nothing short of extraordinary” by Rohan Wenn, a domestic violence campaigner and media manger for Rosie Batty.

The Sydney Morning Herald continued its long-running Shine a Light campaign this week with coverage of the Prime Minister’s proposal to track domestic violence offenders with GPS.

Shine a Light began more than a year ago, “to help bring Australia further out of the dark ages and make it easier for every family to live in safety, free from domestic violence,” the Herald wrote in an editorial last year.

The Mercury in Hobart is running a campaign called ManUp which launched earlier in the year, most recently highlighting comments by Tasmania’s police commissioner, who said police were responding to more than 50 cases of domestic violence in Tasmania every week.

Tasmania is now leading plans to make domestic violence orders applicable in every state, and the state’s attorney-general announced she would look at broadening the scope of self-defence laws in domestic violence situations.

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