Crikey Says

Jan 22, 2014

Crikey says: away from headlines, assaults are rising

The media drove a campaign to Do Something about violence in Sydney. It won, but Barry O'Farrell's knee-jerk response ignores the real victims of violence in Australia. The data doesn't lie.

From last night's 7.30:
LEIGH SALES: ... in the past 13 years, 90 people across Australia have died in these one-punch assaults. Last year in New South Wales alone, 32 women were killed in domestic violence situations, many involving alcohol. The Police media unit says police in New South Wales respond to about 370 domestic violence incidents a day. Given that random violence is so much less of a threat to people than domestic violence, why is the government's priority not on domestic violence?"
Because, Leigh, as you well know, Sydney's media -- led by its oddly congruous daily newspapers -- is not putting domestic violence on the front pages. NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, of course, had a slightly different answer:
BARRY O'FARRELL: Well, our priority is on alcohol and drug-fuelled violence full stop. So most of the media I've done today has been criticism that we're only applying these tougher penalties to alcohol and drug-fuelled violence, and I'm not going to make any apologies for being tough about that, whether it's happening in a domestic situation, whether it's happening in a business situation or whether it's happening on a street in an entertainment precinct. We need to send the clearest possible message to get people to wake up and hopefully to start to educate and change the culture.
The impact of O'Farrell's adopted crusade on education and cultural change is highly debatable -- not that you'll find much dissent in the pages of newspapers that made it very clear what they thought the government had to do. But the domestic violence comparison is stark. Our politics editor Bernard Keane (really bad at being on holidays) put together a little graph ...

One of those lines is going down. The other is going up. And the gap between them is enormous. The media mourned with the devastated families of some of these alcohol-fuelled attacks and the government was forced to act -- with remarkable speed and unfettered power. Newspapers declare victory. Victims find solace. But most of the lives lost on the streets of Sydney wouldn't have been saved by these laws. And so many other victims of violent assault, away from the media's glare, suffer in silence.

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10 thoughts on “Crikey says: away from headlines, assaults are rising

  1. klewso

    As a member of the media maelstrom, you’d think she’d know why the state government wasn’t concentrating on domestic matters, and was reacting instead to the media tide, with it’s control over what gets seen?

  2. Stuart Coyle

    The difference is that domestic assaults don’t happen out on the street in public and media view, for the most part. The government is more concerned with external appearance than internal reality. I’m pretty sure that is how all governments work.

  3. AR

    As I suggested when this latest furore began, the meeja’s twinning of “alcohol & drugs” as the cause of the latest moral manic, ever reliable Rat Hately has jumped in feet first as is his wont.
    First day back on air, he trumpetted that of a million breathtests over Xmas, “only 0.3% were positive but 9% of 5,000 drug driver test were positive, that’s the problem, DRUGS not alcohol!” Of course he didn’t know/care that the only “drug” that can be tested for at roadstops is cannabis, that well know cause of violence & mayhem.

  4. The Pav

    And of course our Murdoch owned and controlled Pm was only ready to jump on the Coward Punch band wagon but also failed to refer / act on domestic violence.

    And he has how many daughters?

  5. Swan Messiah

    While I agree with the point of the article, I can’t help but suggest that maybe that graph is more than a little misleading. Possibly comparing domestic assaults in NSW to non-domestic assaults in NSW would be a little more apt, as opposed to comparing the entire NSW domestic assault stats to only the Sydney local government area non-domestic assaults (if indeed that’s what “LGA” stands for).

  6. Liamj

    Selective coverage is probably because in-home violence largely happens to women & children, who are less likely to be LNP voters or Telegraph consumers.

  7. Hamis Hill

    As the crows come home to roost in the aftermath of the Howardian “Debt is Wealth” delusion, financial stress on families is leading to an increase in domestic violence as shown in the chart.
    No?, then what, pray tell, is the cause?
    Add the austerity policies of the state conservative regimes to these pressures on families, and the family friendly claims of the right wing zealots look very thin.
    That’s right, it is all Howard’s fault.
    Why?, selling out his party to mindless, religiously inspired extremism under the banner of a “Broad Church” has put the sociopaths into power.
    The “survival of the fittest” out there “aspirational land”?
    Nature, red in tooth and claw?
    Australia is better than this inevitable harvest of conservative hate and greed, “Liberally” garnished with Murdoch media poison.

  8. elspeth mcinnes

    Imagine if the same legislative energy of O’Farrell on men’s public violence against men was combined with the pink fury of north of the border Newman’s war on bikies AND then aimed squarely at men’s violence against women and children.

  9. Itsarort

    If there’s no images, then there’s no news. CCTV in the family home will fix this outrageous disparity.

  10. Andrew Davison

    I know I’m late to this party, but unfortunately I have found a fatal flaw in this article; a flaw which is alluded to by Swan Messiah above.
    If you compare the domestic and non-domestic violence statistics from the same jurisdiction, you get a very different picture from that shown in the chart. The data are freely available at the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
    I can’t upload the graph I plotted, but here are the relevant averages from 2008 to 2012:
    Sydney only, assault – non-domestic violence related: average 3,954 cases/yr
    Sydney only, assault – domestic violence related: average 888 cases/yr
    Total NSW, assault – non-domestic violence related: average 39,181 cases/yr
    Total NSW, assault – domestic violence related: average 26,456 cases/yr
    In both cases, non-domestic violence exceeds domestic violence. Leigh Sales might be correct, but Kean’s graph is misleading.

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