THE murder of a young boy at the hands of his father has prompted south-west family violence advocates to speak out about a crime that happens every day in Warrnambool.
Luke Batty, 11, was killed by his father in the small town of Tyabb last week and advocates said his tragic death highlighted the prevalence of family violence within the community.
At least one report of family violence is made to Warrnambool police every day, according to police data.
Emma House Domestic Violence Services manager Pat McLaren said the death of a child at the hands of an abusive partner was not an uncommon phenomenon.
“We need to acknowledge all the children murdered by abusive fathers coming out of domestic violence,” Ms McLaren said.
“It’s taking revenge out on the child and it’s designed to hurt the mother.
“We acknowledge this man had a mental illness. He was also violent.
“It’s heartbreaking that this boy felt responsible for his father. It’s just a tragedy.”
Ms McLaren said the horrific act showed that children weren’t always safe with violent partners and it may go some way to getting the family court to consider what access violent partners were granted.
She said there would always be cracks in the system in terms of appropriate access and in this case Luke’s mother didn’t suspect his father would murder him.
Sergeant Greg Cressall, the officer in charge at the South West Family Violence Unit, said the ripple effects of family violence were felt throughout the community.
He said initially it could be very difficult for those in situations of family violence to get help, but people could report it through a third person or it could be reported over the phone.
He said police were flexible and would meet those experiencing family violence anywhere that suited.
Sergeant Cressall said family violence affected people of all ages, races and backgrounds.
“It’s across all fields,” he said.
“It’s important we get it reported. We can’t act if we don’t know. The sooner the better.”
n Anyone experiencing family violence in the south-west should call 000, contact the 24-hour women’s domestic violence crisis service on 1800 015 188 or Emma House on 5561 1934.