JOHN MENADUE. Domestic violence is a major threat,not terrorism

In The Conversation on 1November, 2018, Silke Myer said ‘After a deadly month for domestic violence the message doesn’t appear to be getting through’   Repost from  2 November 2018

Silke Meyer, Senior Lecturer in Domestic and Family Violence Practice, Central Queensland University, said

On average, at least one woman is killed every week at the hands of a current or former partner in Australia. Last month, the numbers were even more alarming. Nine women were killed in October – seven allegedly in the context of a current or former intimate relationship, the other two also suspected to have died at the hands of male perpetrators.

While these deaths are a disturbing reflection of the pervasive nature of violence against women in Australia, they have largely gone unnoticed. Aside from a small number of female journalists who called on Australia’s leaders to address the crisis, the media more broadly, as well as governments and the wider public, have mostly remained silent.

Yet national effort and resources are directed overwhelmingly to counter terrorism where in the last decade only three people in Australia have been killed.

How could we get all this so wrong? Why are priorities and resources directed overwhelmingly to counter terrorism when domestic violence is a much greater threat? I suggest there are several reasons.

First, terrorism attracts our attention because it is deliberately designed to be as visible as possible – a street slaying by knife or shooting, a bombing in a street or theatre, or a bus careering amongst pedestrians. An object of terrorists is to make their act as vivid and as public as possible. They then claim credit for their action. By contrast, domestic violence is by its very nature behind closed doors.

Second, not surprisingly the media is drawn into the terrorists game-plan. Public violence is news with pictures of carnage. In contrast there are seldom pictures of domestic violence that are anywhere near as “newsworthy.”

Third, terrorism is ideal for those who work to exploit our fear of the foreigner, the outsider and the person who is different. There is a long history of this promotion of fear. John Howard, Pauline Hanson   Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton are adept. The fear promoted in Australia used to be about Asians and communists. Now it is about Muslims and in more recent days the Chinese.

Fourth, industries have expanded to take advantage of the fear of terrorism – intelligence agencies, police, airport security, businesses, think-tanks and even universities. Anti-terrorism is an opportunity in so many ways for more money and more jobs.

So there are a lot of vested interests and particularly politicians who keep pushing terrorism as the chief threat when it is really a scam as Ross Gittins described it when considered alongside the threat and the facts of domestic violence, climate change and gun deaths both accidental and planned.

The facts tell us that violence and deaths from terrorism in Australia are minor compared with the violence and deaths as a result of domestic disputes. Silke Meyer has reminded us again . But we don’t want to listen.


John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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2 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. Domestic violence is a major threat,not terrorism

  1. Rosemary O'Grady says:

    Domestic Volence IS terrorism – of a fundamental type.
    Researching the issues in the mid-’70s at Royal Commission on Human Relationships we found that the academic ‘literature’ allowed a figure of 1 in 10 assaults against women were global norms. We felt that this figure was wide of the real-politik of gender power dysfunctions and that the estimates ought be much higher. A few years ago I suggested to a Melbourne psychiatrist that 1:4 might be a truer estimate. ‘Or higher’ he said. Epidemic is a fair diagnosis I think; civilization & its ‘discontents’?

  2. Evan Hadkins says:

    People are used to domestic violence, so it doesn’t capture attention the way the unusual does (yes, this is appalling).

    And people’s experience with the various welfare agencies probably means they won’t be rejoicing to hear they get millions to handle the domestic murders (too many have experienced incompetence and insensitivity). Imagine the reaction to a headline like, “Centrelink to solve domestic violence”. The same for the state agencies I expect.

    I think we need a large scale education campaign about what works to reduce domestic violence. This linked directly to interventions.

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