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Celebrating a life taken too soon

Domestic violence is a plague afflicting families in Australia, with women and children affected disproportionately.

Sixty-three women were killed by domestic violence in 2018. In 2019 so far, fifty-one women have lost their lives.

Whilst these harrowing statistics can be difficult to believe, shedding light on the human face of domestic violence victims can be a powerful way to inspire change.

It is important to celebrate the lives of those taken by violence, not so they are defined by the dreadful acts of others, but to demand action on domestic violence.

We must ensure that these women – our friends, relatives and colleagues – live on undiminished in our memories.

That’s what HSU members at Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick decided to do recently when they organised a beautiful tribute to their much-loved colleague, Gigi.

Members took to the streets as part of Randwick City Council’s “Step Out, Speak Out” walk against domestic violence. With the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women just a few days later, it was a very timely moment to call for action.

Gigi’s workmate, Jackie Crombie, had this to say: “Domestic abuse consists of many unacceptable behaviours and it is a mistake to think that all forms of abuse must first escalate to episodes of physical violence before someone’s life is in danger.

Through Gigi, I now have an understanding of how complex this issue is. Gigi lived in the real world with responsibilities and obligations that she just got on with, despite whatever else was going on, because she felt she didn’t really have a realistic choice.

I strongly believe that the law has to do more to protect women and allow them to safely escape their situation, including making it uncomplicated to access their share of joint assets.

Fear is a feeling, often in the absence of tangible evidence of abuse. It is important that women feeling fearful are believed on their word without onus on them to have to provide proof, which is not always possible.

Until we see drastic changes to protect women at risk, too many more amazing women in our communities will tragically lose their lives like our beloved Gigi.”