Last week was another incredibly busy week for me: I spoke to nurses at their annual conference in Sydney, I met student doctors in Adelaide, and I addressed local government representatives at a conference in Melbourne.
I also headed to Parliament House in Canberra to receive a welcome cheque for $110,000 from the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery for the Never Alone campaign.
When my journey speaking out about family violence began, the day after my son Luke was killed, I didn’t realise how important the press would become as a partner and ally in the growing movement to stop family violence.
When I woke up that morning I heard friends and neighbours who had congregated in my home discussing what to do with the media assembled outside. They wanted to protect me and make decisions on my behalf, but I chose to walk out of my gate to address the journalists waiting outside.
I planned to tell the press to go away, but I was encouraged to make a comment. Still in a state of shock, I opened up to the journalists who were there that day. I simply told the media my story, and since then I have seen the positive power for change that the press is capable of generating.
The number of articles about family violence we see in the media now exceeds anything we’ve previously seen. Women’s services that often felt frustrated that their work and struggles for funding weren't being reported tell me they are now being covered in the media in ways they couldn’t have dreamed of before.
Not so long ago, as Ken Lay has said, family violence was seen as a “filthy little secret” that no one talked about. But the view that family violence is something we can sweep under the carpet, that it’s not a topic worth reporting on, has now changed.
The media has an important role to play in shaping attitudes and perceptions and knowledge. This year the press has done remarkable work bearing witness to the stories of the women that have been harmed and killed by intimate partners. Sensitively and accurately telling stories of the two women that have been killed on average so far this year is having an impact on the community and helping galvanise the mood to do something.
The money the Press Gallery raised from its Midwinter Ball will go to the Never Alone campaign to keep talking about the problem of family violence, to lobby for more funding for women's services, for education programs that will make a difference, and for real change in the legal systems that too often let women down.
I’m so appreciative of the support I’ve received from the media. But I also hope, with the movement that we are creating together, and with the changes we are asking for, the media will soon run out of terrible stories of family violence to report.