By YASEMIN TALAT
DOMESTIC violence should be called for what it is, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said last week – “violence against women and families”.
Violence against women and children was in the spotlight following the fatal stabbing of mother-of-four Fiona Warzywoda in Sunshine on Wednesday 16 April.
Over 600 people from across the Western Suburbs and beyond gathered in Sunshine last week to remember the slain Melton West woman and stand against violence towards women and children.
Roads were blocked off as the community rallied together on the corner of Devonshire and Hampshire Roads last Tuesday evening, a week after Ms Warzywoda was allegedly stabbed to death there by her de-facto husband.
Residents, witnesses, police, politicians and the family and friends of Ms Warzywoda and other victims of domestic violence gathered to honour innocent lives lost and send the message that this could not keep happening.
“It’s not just the justice system which failed Fiona and her children and her family, I think’s it’s all of us,” Mr Shorten said.
“Domestic violence has a lot of different moving parts. It’s not just a women’s issue, but it’s a men’s issue,” he said.
“We need a cultural change, we need a resource change, but also the other thing is domestic violence is a national issue, it’s not just a state issue.”
Resident Sophie Dutertre, who initiated the vigil and silent protest, said she didn’t want Ms Warzywoda’s death to only be a news item for a day and then disappear from consciousness after her killer was found.
“I care about community, and I care about Sunshine because it’s a place with a strong, vibrant and passionate community,” Ms Dutertre said.
“I wanted to show that the community can get together and getting together as a community is very powerful,” she said.
Craig McDermott, from Sunshine North, handed himself in to police last Thursday and appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court later that night. He was charged with murder and was remanded until August 7.
“Grief is grief, there’s not a day when it’s better or when it’s worse, the loss doesn’t change. But I spoke to members of her family and having hundreds of people there showing solidarity, I know the family took some strength from that,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
“This is the way Sunshine responds, because Sunshine is a good place. It is a good place to live and when something bad happens this is the way people respond; people stand together,” Greens MP Colleen Hartland.
“We are very good at coming together after these tragedies; we are less good at stopping them from happening in the first place. There were 29 domestic homicides in Victoria last year, so unfortunately this is the latest in a long list of tragedies,” Federal Labor Member for Gellibrand Tim Watts.
“This turn-out is an indication that the community has had enough. Our legal system has to be responsive and take violence against women seriously, we need a royal commission into violence against women which would actually look into where the problems lie and why women are dying, one a week, at the hands of men,” Victoria University lecturer and Sexual assaults Counsellor Margherita Windisch.
“I’m 100 per cent against violence against women and I want to send a message that Sunshine is safe,” Sunshine resident Saliah Ali.
“How many more women and children have to die at the hands of an abuser? How many more women and children have to live in fear every day of their lives?” Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service CEO Annette Gillespie.