Anger is growing about a rise in domestic violence order breaches in Queensland after a Gold Coast mother of three was killed at her home.
Her estranged husband has been charged with murder, contravention of a domestic violence order and breach of bail conditions after Kelly Wilkinson’s burnt body was found in the backyard of her Arundel home on Tuesday morning.
Ms Wilkinson’s three young children, aged between two and nine, were home at the time of her death.
Domestic violence advocates say “enough is enough” and more needed to be done to save women who were trying to seek protection from dangerous relationships.
“Yes, another woman [allegedly] killed by her estranged partner whilst having a domestic violence order in place and trying to protect her family,” the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation posted on social media.
“Feel the outrage at this national crisis.”
Domestic violence orders were broken 98 times a day on average in Queensland in 2020, police statistics show, for a total of 35,860 last year.
In 2019, it was an average of 84 breaches each day.
A major review has been ordered into the way the criminal justice system dealt with victims of sexual and domestic violence, headed up by former Court of Appeal judge Margaret McMurdo.
The taskforce has been charged with drawing up legislation to criminalise coercive control and will report back to government later this year.
Bonney MP Sam O’Connor, who has been messaging Ms Wilkinson’s sister, said Ms Wilkinson’s mother had died just before Easter.
He said Ms Wilkinson’s death had left the grieving community with a lot of questions.
“In our part of the Gold Coast we have been absolutely devastated by this, it happened on a quiet suburban street,” he said.
“People who would have brought their kids to school beside Kelly, who had their kids in the same class as Kelly, can not believe this has happened.
“They can not believe hearing there was a charge of a breach of a domestic violence order, people are angry that she did everything possible and this could still happen.
“She was clearly doing as much as she could.”
Mr O’Connor, who pointed out the “horrific similarity” to Hannah Clarke and her children’s murders in 2020, said more needed to be done.
“It is not just legislation alone,” he said.
“There is a cultural change that is needed, women are overwhelming the victim of this at the hands of men and there is serious cultural change that needs to happen among men.”
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman extended her sympathy to Ms Wilkinson’s family, in particular her three young children.
“We know that there is more work to be done, especially in light of COVID which has increased violence against women in our community,” she said.
“During the pandemic almost one in 10 women in a relationship experienced domestic violence, with two-thirds saying attacks started or became worse.”
Ms Fentiman said the government had pledged another $2.5 million in COVID-19 grants through 23 projects.
“These projects will be delivered from the Torres Strait to the Gold Coast and will deliver innovative responses to the impacts of COVID across sexual violence and domestic violence,” she said.
A national summit on women’s safety will be held in late July in a deal between federal and state ministers to canvass new programs to prevent violence.
If you or someone you know needs help or support, contact DV Connect on 1800 811 811 or 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service on 07 3217 2544.
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