18 September 2015 –
Earlier this week I gave a speech in the Queensland Parliament about personal violence and the Not Now, Not Ever Report. Please find a transcript of the speech below.
For 20 years before I entered this Parliament, I spent my days repairing the broken and battered survivors of personal violence, including domestic violence.
I recall the woman who’d been bashed with a baseball bat. Her face was shattered. As our team put her back together we realised there was a bit missing. Part of her scalp and forehead was just….missing. The Royal Brisbane Hospital trauma team did a good job, but she lost the sight in one eye and she’ll never be the same. But that’s not the worst, because surgeons never see the worst ones. They’re in the morgue.
I’m over it, and I’ve been over it for many years, which is why almost a decade ago I became an anti-violence campaigner. I’d see it every Monday. “I fell over,” said the housewife the first time I saw her. The second time she’d “fallen into an aquarium”. But I could see where the punches had landed. And you’d wonder how many times she’d presented at her GP with less serious injuries, or just gone to a friend’s place with a few bruises.
And the young blokes with the weekend package deal: broken jaw; broken cheekbone; broken eye socket: “Friday or Saturday night in the Valley?” I’d ask them. And then I’d put their faces back together again with titanium plates and screws. All personal violence, including family violence, is a scourge on society. The economic cost alone is staggering: domestic and family violence is estimated to cost the Queensland economy between $2.7 and $3.2 billion a year. This doesn’t include the personal violence in the streets, at the parties, and, let’s be frank, on our sports fields and sidelines.
We need to make a cultural shift to a society that doesn’t accept violence. It’s definitely changed since the ’70s – thank God you don’t hear lines any more like: “It was just a bit of biffo out the back of the pub” or “He just beat her up a bit. She probably deserved it.” It’s getting better, but it’s not good enough, as last week’s events have shown so tragically. We need to tackle the root causes.
Early intervention is so important: our children in our homes and in their schools need to know that violence is not acceptable. Bullying at school, violence in the school ground, violence on the sporting field: they are all aspects of our culture where each of us can and should be saying: I don’t accept that. And we can’t ignore the interconnection between alcohol and drugs and personal violence. Alcohol was a contributing factor for three-quarters of the patients I treated, and it was the same for other emergency teams in other hospitals. Do we really need people drinking alcohol until 5am in our clubs and pubs?
I’m often asked why I am in an economic portfolio, rather than a portfolio where I could directly take action on personal violence. After all, I came to politics for a cause, not a career. But I know that my job of building a stronger economy and generating jobs and prosperity gives government and communities the resources they need to beat this scourge. I ask every member in this House, and communities across Queensland, to do everything they can to prevent violence. Let’s all of us start here, now, because it’s got to stop.
To view the speech visit www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/broadcast-chamber/archive?file=20150915_102619