Bendigo Advertiser journalists have been recognised by the Walkley Foundation and Our Watch for outstanding reporting of violence against women and children.
Editor Nicole Ferrie and journalists Emma D’Agostino and Natalie Croxon were on Wednesday night named winners of the Best Local and Community Journalism category at the 2018 Our Watch awards in Sydney.
Our Watch leads Australia's work to stop violence against women and their children before it starts. The organisation was created to drive nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that lead to violence against women and children.
The annual awards, administered by the Walkley Foundation, recognise journalists who have helped drive social change by reporting on violence against women and their children.
Walkley Foundation-appointed judges noted the Bendigo Advertiser’s work as an entry that “captured the real impacts and risk factors associated with violence’’.
“They looked at all sides of the problem as well as the solution. The writing was engaging and informative with extensive research and an examination of different types of violence and associated stereotypes. Beautiful work.”
Our Watch chair Natasha Stott Despoja AM said this year’s entries demonstrated integrity and an intelligent and compassionate understanding of the complex issue of violence against women and their children.
Ms Stott Despoja noted the marked improvement of reporting on the issue, with media increasingly examining the causes of violence and avoiding language that blames victims or excuses perpetrators.
"Our Watch understands that the media’s role in highlighting this violence and examining its causes is vital. We will continue to work closely with the media to highlight examples of excellent reporting," she said.
“Survivors of violence against women must be heard. That’s what this reporting is doing, it is giving women a voice and holding to account powerful organisations that have hidden abuse and protected perpetrators.”
Congratulations to #OurWatchAwards winners of the Best Local/Community Journalism Award, @natcroxon, @nicoleferrie & @amassedmedia. Your powerful piece calling on Australians to stand up & address the drivers of #ViolenceAgainstWomen captured the real impact of the issue. pic.twitter.com/HrmlCH682o— Our Watch (@OurWatchAus) September 12, 2018
Here is editor Nicole Ferrie’s letter to the community, and below are links to Emma D’Agostino and Natalie Croxon’s pieces, acknowledged for their depth and research:
This week, many across the country will gather in public places following the horrific death of Eurydice Dixon in a Melbourne park.
We saw similar in the weeks after the death of another Melbourne woman, Jill Meagher - when thousands walked the streets calling for an end to violence.
It is important we come together as a sign of strength - to say that women should not be scared to walk alone in the dark.
That indeed women should never be scared to walk alone.
They should not be told to avoid wearing headphones, to carry a phone, hold their keys or wear a full body suit to cover up.
Teaching women to be afraid is not the answer - instead, we must focus on the reasons why women are at risk: men’s violence - and the entrenched misogyny and attitudes towards women and girls.
Women are not responsible for their own safety.
Men are responsible for their own behaviour.
And as we come together this week, we must remember that such behaviour is rarely random.
We should also remember the names and faces of the women and children who have been killed, physically harmed or sexually assaulted by men they know.
There are no words to adequately articulate how awful it was that Eurydice was allegedly killed by a stranger, walking home on her own late at night - but why are we so motivated to effect change when a woman dies in this way?
Why are we not motivated to effect change when a woman dies, is raped or hurt at the hands of someone she knows? We must remember that most men who kill are not ‘monsters’ lurking in the dark, or men who ‘just snap’.
Most homicides involving women are at the hands of men they know. And the most dangerous place for a woman is in her own home.
The latest data from the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network showed that from July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2014, there were 152 intimate partner homicides which followed an ‘identifiable history of domestic violence’.
More than 79 per cent of those involved men taking the lives of women who were, or had been, intimate partners - and most of the murderers were male, even when they killed their male partner.
Of the small number of women who killed their partners, most were not the primary aggressor - with the male being the primary abuser in 61 percent of cases.
The report said the deaths were largely preventable, ‘when viewed as the escalation of a predictable pattern of behaviour.'
This newspaper reported Annie North Women’s Refuge chief executive Julie Oberin as saying the data “challenges us all - governments, service providers, and the community - to do more, so that it doesn’t continue to happen’’.
“If you can foresee it, you can prevent it,” she said.
Every time a woman is hurt, raped or killed by a man, it is because the world has failed her.
The world is not awake to the wrongs created by patriarchy, misogyny, male entitlement and the power and control that comes with that.
There are many trying to educate others, but until we really listen to the stories of women - their experiences and truths - and finally recognise that data and statistics don't lie, nothing will change.
Women's experiences provide the information to help form solutions. The women’s voices must be front and centre - but men won't allow that to happen.
And while it's not all men, those who would rather take this line and put their energy into arguing decades-long research, than effecting positive change, are only contributing to the problem.
Talk to your boys about respect - and model that.
Why are boys taught to view girls as less than them? And why do they feel so entitled to treat girls and women that way?
Men - question your own attitudes towards women and girls, and ask yourself why you hold such beliefs.
And don’t join the ‘it’s not all men’ chorus - instead, start to listen to the women around you. They all have stories of the casual, everyday sexism that cultivates appalling attitudes about girls and women. Call out sexist, controlling or abusive behaviour when you see it. Nothing will change until this starts happening.
As Centre for Non Violence chief executive Margaret Augerinos recently said, “resistance to the gendered nature of intimate partner violence” is affecting prevention efforts. “Until we, as a society, can have honest conversations about why our statistics are the way they are we are going to struggle,” she said.
So let's start having them. Yes, vigils are important - but we need to do more. Let's talk about what is actually happening, every day - and genuinely start having conversations based on the evidence before us.
Most killers are not strangers.
- Nicole Ferrie is editor of the Bendigo Advertiser
Congratulations to our editor @nicoleferrie and journalists @amassedmedia and @natcroxon on last night winning a @walkleys@OurWatchAus Our Watch award #OurWatchAwards You can find their powerful stories, here: https://t.co/bX90DbBoQepic.twitter.com/o71i8Fd7t7— Bendigo Advertiser (@BgoAddy) September 12, 2018
READ MORE from EMMA D’AGOSTINO: Community resolves to press for progress
BENDIGO can boast of numerous achievements with respect to women’s advancement. But there is a great deal more to be done, and the community’s leaders are aiming high.
READ MORE from NATALIE CROXON: How violence can affect marginalised and disadvantaged women
Violence against women remains an all-too-common blight on Australian communities. Family violence, the leading preventable contributor to death, disability and ill-health among women aged 15 to 44, is the most prevalent form of violence.
READ MORE from EMMA D’AGOSTINO: Central Victorian experts respond to Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network 2018 report
ONE hundred and fifty-two people were killed by intimate partners in four years in Australia. Each homicide case involved a history of domestic violence, leading a network of experts to find such deaths were ‘largely preventable’.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence or sexual assault, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 373 372.
For support with recent or past experiences of sexual assault or abuse, call LCCASA on 5441 0430 or the Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line after hours on 1800 806 292.