An Open Letter from YWCA CEO Michelle Phillips

Content Warning: Family Violence

After recent news of the horrific murder of Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey in Queensland, we were left reeling.

There is never an excuse to murder women and their children.

A national outpouring of grief and disbelief has been marred by a flurry of disturbing rhetoric floating around – victim blaming, excusing, and misinformation about the prevalence and nature of violence against women.

This is the reality we face every day:

  • In Australia, women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner
  • More than one woman a week is killed by a current or former partner – in 2020 nine women have already been killed due to family violence
  • Around 95% of all victims of reported violence is committed by a male perpetrator
  • Women are more likely to feel fear and anxiety or be hospitalised due to family violence
  • Violence against women begins with disrespect and gender inequality.

We’re angry, we’re heavy-hearted and we’re frustrated.

But we’re also unstoppable.

We can challenge gender inequality and disrespect wherever we see it. We can challenge gender stereotypes, or that ‘harmless’ sexist joke. We can call for increased funding for specialist women’s services and community prevention initiatives. We can promote women’s independence and leadership. We can reach out to our friends and family who need support.

YWCA Australia is on the frontline and on the policy line.

We deliver primary prevention programs in schools and workplaces, we celebrate and invest in the leadership of women, young women and girls and we advocate for an intersectional approach to gender equality.

There is not one solution to this epidemic of men’s violence against women. We all have to do what we can.

We hope you are all doing ok. Check in on your loved ones.

Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey.

We will not stop our critical work until every woman in Australia is safe from the scourge of gender-based violence.

Take care,

Michelle Phillips
CEO, YWCA Australia

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