When will we stop counting dead women?

Family and friends will gather on Wednesday for the funeral of Stephanie Scott.

Family and friends will gather on Wednesday for the funeral of Stephanie Scott. Photo: Facebook

There are 31 women killed, Prime Minister.

31 women.  Australians are counting dead women

Yes, it's true that not all of these women were murdered by people they knew. One of them was a teacher doing catch-up work before her honeymoon. One was a young girl walking through a park. Some were mums. One was a sex worker. And in some cases, no-one has been arrested for the crime.

Not all  of these women were victims of domestic violence. In fact, we won't know until after the trials are over exactly what happened.


But we do know this.  In at least 20 of these cases, the accused killed was a member of the victim's family.

So do you think this is the week, Prime Minister, for Australians to discover that your government has cut ongoing funding to 27 specialised family violence programs in services all over Australia?

Cut funding which supports thousands of people who have experienced or witnessed domestic violence, including children. These programs will lose their last funding on June 30. Then nothing.

And this is the very same week – in a day's time in fact – when we know you are off to the Council of Australian Governments, where you've said that domestic violence will be  "the most urgent matter".

So I'm struggling with this. It's at once "the most urgent matter" and yet you've cut funding to 27 programs, run by respected and well-developed services such as Relationships Australia, Interrelate, EACH and Uniting Care.

Now, some of the smaller providers of services like these only receive money from one of your departments. So those groups called you out – and in some instances, you and your ministers have been shamed into providing the money Australian families need.

But some of these organisations suffering cuts have funding from other departments. They are too terrified to rock the boat in case they are further punished.

Look, we all know and accept that the 2014 Budget was a wreck. We know you know it. But you must think of somewhere else to save money or get revenue. Or else stop pretending to want to stop violence against women.

This is a big week, Prime Minister.  This is the week where you get to really show your commitment, the one you made in the heat of the Prince Phillip knighthood moment, the one you made to Australian of the Year Rosie Batty and former Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay.

Now, the states and territories are doing their best.

Pru Goward, now the NSW Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, argues there must be a "whole of government" approach. And I'm guessing that she doesn't just mean in her home state. She says her portfolio will provide necessary resources, policies and programs by integrating health, police, community services and justice. 
The best news is that representatives from all the front-line government agencies and NGOs will share information on victims.

"No longer do victims have to continuously re-tell their story," she told Daily Life.

"There is no simple solution or single act that can prevent Domestic Violence, but having a dedicated Ministry ensures there is an all of government approach in this important area."

Let's hope she can help fix the continuing debacle of refuges in NSW.

And Fiona Richardson, Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence in Victoria, is rightly proud of the state government's instant response to violence against women as soon as it was elected.

"The Andrews Labor Government has led the way on this national emergency by appointing the first Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and by providing $40 million for the establishment of the nation's first Royal Commission into Family Violence."

She's confident the Royal Commission will recommend policy responses and systemic reform.

"No doubt it will identify a better way of doing things that may benefit other states and territories."

Those states and territories need leadership. And you must provide it.

I'm looking at the four stages of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Children 2010 – 2022..

You've adopted it and promoted it. And we are now at the second national plan, the bit which says you will support innovative services and integrated systems (which your government has just defunded).

In less than 12 months, we are meant to move into the third national plan, where we have "promising results".

Yep, those promising results include the 31 women who've been killed this year. And they are just the ones we've read about.

Australians are exhausted from Counting Dead Women. You've got the power to make it stop.

Counting Dead Women is the work of Destroy the Joint, an online feminist action group. Please help us remember these women.