Alice Springs News
22 September 2015
Sir – In his first TV interview as Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull defined “domestic violence” as “violence against women”. Understandable, perhaps. But where does that leave the rest of us? And I don’t just mean men, real or otherwise.
I’m thinking of Aussie kids who experience regimes of domestic violence, each and every day, according to the definition that should count, our Family Law Act: “violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family, or causes the family member to be fearful”.
In Australia alone, tens of thousands of children of divided families experience one of the worst forms of child abuse and domestic violence – even if it doesn’t meet our PM’s more popular definition: they are controlled and coerced by one of their parents into rejecting (and are often made to feel fearful of) their other parent – and, usually, half of their extended family and friends too.
They are manipulated into hating their dad or their mum, so that their other parent doesn’t have to endure shared parenting with an ex they now despise. The harm to these children is life-long; many even attempt suicide as a direct consequence (as do many of their parents, having lost contact with kids they love).
Please, Prime Minister, don’t forget these even-more-vulnerable and voiceless victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence hurts us all. The time has come to transform how our society helps children, and their parents, when families separate. Our kids deserve better too.