STATEMENT FOR THE NEWCASTLE VIGIL FOR HANNAH CLARK

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I'd like to thank you for coming together as a community this evening to remember Hannah Clarke and her children – Aaliyah, Laianah, and Trey. I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person as Parliament is sitting in Canberra.

It’s hard to articulate the profound horror and sadness we all feel in the face of shocking acts of violence like this. But I know from a similar gathering we held in Parliament last week that coming together can help, so I want to thank the organisers of tonight’s vigil.

Let's be absolutely clear from the start: there can be no excuse for this atrocious act. This is a man who poured petrol over his former partner and his three children and set them alight.

This was a brutal act of murder perpetrated by a cowardly criminal. And anyone who says otherwise is part of the problem.

What happened to Hannah and her children is a devastating reminder of just how dangerous the post-separation world is for domestic violence survivors.

And regretfully, this is not an isolated case, with least 70 children being killed by a parent after separation since 1996.

This horrendous fact reminds us that domestic violence remains the greatest national security issue facing our country.

Domestic violence is everybody's problem. And it requires a united community response. Cultural change will be critical. It’s people like you - calling out this behaviour for what it is - that will help shape the culture to reduce and ultimately prevent domestic violence.

But we also need some fundamental reform to policing and family law:

  • We need zero tolerance policing and proactive assessment and protection of women at risk.
  • We need proper resourcing for our courts and legal aid.
  • We need properly funded support networks to help and women when they make the courageous decision to flee domestic violence.
  • And we need fundamental changes to our family law system because we continue to put children in harm's way by insisting on giving access to violent fathers who present a real threat to their children's safety.


I will continue to fight for change in the Federal Parliament.

Thank you again for standing up in solidarity to this national scourge of violence against women and children. It matters.

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Authorised by Sharon Claydon MP, 427 Hunter Street Newcastle