‘There is a greater epidemic in our communities than coronavirus’

Mar 09, 2020
Governments in Australia have been swift to implement safe practices to address the coronavirus, but Fran feels a swift response is needed to tackle a greater risk -- domestic violence in our communities. Source: Getty Images

Listening to the radio in the car recently, the announcer mentioned that coronavirus (COVID-19) was in epidemic proportions in Australia. Walking into the supermarket I witnessed panic buying in progress. What sort of epidemic do we think is happening?

Epidemic proportions? I cannot agree entirely. While there are thousands suffering worldwide and coronavirus causing deaths, Australia has had worse flu epidemics in its time.

I am not trying to minimise the severity or potential this virus has to hold the countries to ransom, but I think locally, in Australia, we are overreacting.

According to the information available to me, currently Australia has had two deaths from coronavirus. For a bit of perspective, at the time of writing there were nine deaths as a result of domestic violence, but there doesn’t seem to be an ounce of panic in our communities.

I’ve not seen the media reporting daily on domestic violence, yet hundreds are suffering. We express concern about those coming into Australia from other nations, but we do not seem to have the same concern about who is coming into the homes of women (and some men) to abuse them, manipulate them, beat them, and even kill them.

I have no doubt someone will find a way to stop this virus. We have been reminded about how we can help ourselves eliminate the risk of contracting it from others. However, I don’t think the complacence of some in the community, and especially our governments, will ‘kill off’ domestic violence.

We Baby Boomers have seen and lived a lot of life. We will be able to talk about the good times and the bad times we have experienced. We have seen governments come and go. We have seen trends in fashion, food, celebrity and more come and go (and in some cases, come again) …

But this issue of domestic violence has not come and gone. It has not improved as we’ve moved into modern times. Chances are there are some of you reading this that is a victim or knows a victim.

Yet, our focus is not on doing something productive and proactive to remove this scourge on our society. Instead, we choose to focus on people coming into our country and the possibility they might be bringing a nasty virus with them. We take drastic action, plundering supermarket shelves so that there is not a square of toilet paper or a can of food left for our neighbour.

We see stories published and talk about freely the marriage breakdown of movie stars and other celebrities and ‘how horrible that is’. We worry about the royal family, with a special focus on the drama of Prince Harry and his family stepping away from royal duties. We don’t seem to have any issues with presenting an argument about how their decision will impact the monarchy or the effect it might have on the Queen. We get indignant about about high profile sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein …

Why then are we not so indignant about domestic violence. Why is this issue not part of our daily discussion?

If we don’t all speak up on a daily basis, push governments for harsher punishments and more safe houses, stand behind the victims, who will stamp out this epidemic?

If you are concerned about domestic and family violence in your family, friends or workplace, contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732, Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978, Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 for confidential support, advice and referral that will help you explore your options.

Do you think people are overreacting about coronavirus? Should more be done to stamp out domestic violence in our communities?

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…
Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up