This article was published in the Herald Sun on the 10th April by Olivia Jenkins, Mitch Clarke, Regan Hodge and Jade Gailberger.

The Premier has led a chorus of outrage after teacher’s aide Hannah McGuire became the third female to be allegedly murdered by a man in the Ballarat region in just three months, amid a “national crisis” of violence against women that has claimed 22 lives this year.

An emotional Jacinta Allan said the shocking figure was “unacceptable” after Ms McGuire’s body was found in a burnt-out car on Friday and her ex-partner, Lachie Young, 21, appeared in court on Tuesday accused of killing her.

“It has to stop,” Ms Allan said. “Women don’t just deserve the right, they must have the right to live and work and move safely around our community. “It is just unacceptable that too many women are losing their lives at the hands of a violent perpetrator. Behind every statistic is a woman, is a family, and a community who are grieving.”

Ms Allan said her thoughts were with Ms McGuire’s distraught family and the Ballarat community, which has been grappling with three alleged murders of women at the hands of men since February.

Ballarat East mother of three Samantha Murphy went missing that month before 22year-old tradie Patrick Stephenson, the son of ex-Richmond and Geelong footballer Orren Stephenson, was arrested and charged with murder in March.

Mum of five Rebecca Young was stabbed to death in an apparent murder-suicide nearby, at Sebastopol, on February 16, while she was at home with two of her kids. Her partner Ian Butler – who had ties to the Bandidos – took his own life after killing her.

Ballarat Mayor Des Hudson said the deaths of Ms McGuire, Ms Murphy and Ms Young were “three moments of madness”.

“Once again, we are gathered in Ballarat for a story that we wish we weren’t commenting on today,” he said. “These are just three moments of madness that have taken place, but it does not reflect what we are about, who we are, or what we stand for. “It is absolutely heartbreaking. I think we were all looking for what was going to be next on a positive scale but none of us expected, or thought, we’d be back here in front of the cameras. It’s an absolutely devastating story so soon.”

Mr Hudson called on the men of Ballarat to “be better” but maintained the regional city was still a safe place to live. Respect Victoria chairwoman Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon said the frequency of violence against women in Australia was a “national crisis”. “The recent deaths of women in Ballarat has shone a frightening light on the scale of violence against women in Ballarat, in Victoria, and across Australia,” she said. “While each case involves its own unique circumstances, there is a commonality – the alleged use of fatal male violence and that these men are often known to the female victim prior to their deaths.”

Professor Fitz-Gibbon said that despite commitments at the federal level – including the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children – Australians were yet to see anything near the actions and level of funding needed to deal with the scale of the problem.

“All Victorians have a role to play in challenging the outdated attitudes and behaviours that drive violence against women,” she said. “This can involve challenging victim-blaming attitudes and calling out sexist or homophobic jokes made by friends, family or work colleagues.”

With one woman killed every nine days, on average, by a man in Australia, Goldstein MP Zoe Daniel said men needed to “step up”. “

Until every man in Victoria and across the country recognises this, and the role they can play in changing the culture, women will continue to be murdered,” she said. “Being a bystander is not enough. As women, there is only so much we can do to stop ourselves from being killed. We need men to step up.”

Phillip Ripper, chief executive of No to Violence, a national body that works with men who commit family violence, said there was growing concern around “disturbing” behaviour by young males.

“The broader family-violence community is disturbed by research about the oncoming generation, particularly young men and boys and their attitudes towards women that perpetrate attitudes of family violence against women,” he said. Mr Ripper said toxic social media content was a key driver behind violence carried out by younger men. “We hear the voice of Andrew Tate and online influencers with really destructive and skewed views of what it Page 3 of 4 means to be a man and what masculinity looks like in the next generation,” he said.

Respect Victoria acting chief executive Serina McDuff said entire communities continued to be hurt by violence against women.

“The death of Hannah McGuire is devastating, and our thoughts are with her loved ones and the Ballarat community, where at least three women have been allegedly murdered so far this year,” she said.

“We know violence is more likely to occur in relationships where men believe they should have power over women, where men seek to control their partners and limit their independence.”

White Ribbon chief executive Melissa Perry said: “As a society, we cannot be so numbed and desensitised that we view family and domestic violence and resulting deaths as just another statistic. The time for silence and indifference has well and truly ended.”

Data from the Coroner’s Court shows that there were 12 family violence-related deaths in Victoria last year. In 2022, there were 24 deaths, compared to 17 deaths in 2021. A recent national study of 3500 men aged between 18 and 45 found 34 per cent believed it was okay to use violence when necessary to gain respect.



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