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HomeIssue 51LETTER: Family, friends knew murdered woman was being abused

LETTER: Family, friends knew murdered woman was being abused

Sir – I am shocked by the murder of a young woman, after a savage attack at Abbott’s Camp on Christmas Day.
The death of this young woman is a sign that despite the mandatory reporting requirement for domestic and family violence in the Northern Territory, women are still being savagely beaten and murdered in domestic disputes.
I have been advised that family and friends of this woman knew that the victim was being subjected to extreme violence and abuse by her husband prior to her death.
I am deeply shocked and deeply saddened by this young woman’s senseless, cruel death. I want to understand how this happened and form a clearer understanding of what could have been done to prevent it.
We also need to ensure that domestic and family violence strategies are targeted at the people must vulnerable with an emphasis on prevention.
After only four months in Government [it is clear that] it is the policies of the former Labor Government that have failed to make an impact on the spiraling rate of violence against women.
Women should not be losing their lives in this way, we need to examine what failed this woman.
Robyn Lambley
Acting Chief Minister


  1. So why did your government disband the role of DV workers at the Alice Springs and Darwin hospitals, Acting Chief Minister? This is your watch now … you promised everything would be “better”. Blaming former governments for outcomes contributed to by your administration is a pointless exercise.

  2. Absolutely tragic. Let’s not make this a political debate and lay blame. Let’s start educating Aboriginal people that it is not OK for themselves, their mothers, sisters or daughters to be subjected to family violence in any form. Let’s also support them and ensure reports
    are acted upon. May this young woman’s death not be in vain. RIP

  3. Totally agree Robyn. So sad for the family and many women in our community, particularly women living on town camps (I am assuming this lady was an Aboriginal person).
    Whilst I am a Labor voter I don’t think blame can be placed solely on the past Government’s shoulders – although they have to share some of it for this being a continuing issue. I suspect that on past evidence alcohol may have been a factor. I look forward to seeing how your Government balances the conflict between access to alcohol and the resultant violence in our community. The violence against women is too common isn’t it? What is failing these women is not just government policies. It’s the general lack of respect some visitors have for individuals and their property, their communities including town camps and Alice Springs in general. It seems people think they can get away with anything, even murder.
    So there are some cultural factors at play here. Not from the traditional perspective I mean. Someone has to acknowledge that culture is practice, is not just past acts but also those current (the past being in the present but we are not remnant beings).
    Due respect to the many strong men in our communities who continue to fight strong and the young men growing into these leadership roles. There are many other issues no doubt others will highlight, but having said that I feel like a hypocrite when I paraphrase Clinton – “its the alcohol stupid”.

  4. Where does DV start? In early childhood development? Generational.
    We need to set in place strategies with short, medium and long-term solutions to this growing problem in communities.
    I live in a unit block where a couple with a criminal history constantly behave violently to the extent police are called to intervene!
    In once case six police were needed to restrain the young male.
    The extent of their noise had resulted in police attendance many times since they moved in and yet the young woman stays.
    It seems a waste of police resources when the woman stays with her abusive partner. Why does she stay?
    More needs to be done for women and men to manage their anger and transition to where communication is civil.
    As an outsider, it’s frustrating and upsetting to listen to their fights and watch this pattern of behaviour repeat itself!
    Big task to correct a societal issue.
    In the case of DVO’s the male needs to be monitored with a tracking device, amidst counseling and a buddy support system, like a reforming addict has.
    No short fix and no blame game – get on with the job. Government’s can play a role by providing appropriate funding to agencies and develop new programs to detect early signs in childhood and treat the whole family. To shape the future means we need to address this issue now.

  5. Hello Robyn,
    I live in New Zealand and frequently read news on line and am appalled at your media release and the Northern Territory police releases in relation to a young woman assaulted and eventually dying from the assault she underwent.
    How can you use anyone’s death in this way shows you have no morals or compassion as it appears you are turning this death into a three ring circus you call politics, so you can score brownie points!
    While you express your shock at the murder of a young woman in Alice Springs, this woman was a mother and had children and family, do you have any evidence to your claim that family and friends of this woman knew that the victim was being subjected to extreme violence and abuse by her husband prior to her death if so prove it!
    As to the Northern Territory police media releases they are a joke.
    First they release the following
    Serious Assault Arrest – Alice Springs
    Thursday 27-Dec-2012 09:31
    Alice Springs Police have arrested a 19-year-old man overnight in relation to a domestic-related assault on Christmas Day which left one woman in hospital.
    Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Janelle Snigg said Police were called to Abbott’s Camp at around 1:00am on Tuesday night to respond to a call for assistance following an argument.
    “Upon arrival Police found a 23-year-old woman suffering severe head injuries. She was taken to Alice Springs Hospital where she remains in a serious condition.
    “The alleged offender was arrested at Mosquito Bore and is currently in Police custody.”
    Charges are expected to be laid later today.
    Then a day later:
    Serious Assault Charges – Alice Springs
    Friday 28-Dec-2012 10:02
    A 19-year-old man will appear in Alice Springs Magistrates Court this morning in relation to an alleged serious assault upon a 23-year-old woman.
    Detective Sergeant Carmen Butcher said the alleged assault took place on 25 December at Abbott’s Camp.
    “The woman was taken to Alice Springs Hospital suffering severe head injuries and remains in a serious condition.”
    The man was arrested and charged with recklessly endangering life, recklessly endangering serious harm, intend serious harm – cause serious harm and engaging in conduct that contravenes DVO.
    Then there latest one:
    Murder Charges Expected Today
    Monday 31-Dec-2012 10:25
    A 19 year-old man, currently in custody facing several charges relating to an incident early on Christmas morning, is expected to have his charges upgraded to murder this morning.
    A 22 year-old woman has died as a result of injuries received in the incident.
    Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Janelle Snigg from the Southern Investigations Division said Alice Springs Police are deeply saddened by the death.
    I feel for this woman’s family but to see you trying to use this for political gain sickens me.
    Both yourself and the Northern Territory police need to get your act together and show some respect to the family this woman has left behind and do a media release apologising to the family of this woman for your lack of compassion towards the family and trying to make yourself look big in politics, and lay charges since it appears by all the media releases I have seen and put above the person was arrest back on the 27th December so this family can have closure and heal from this tragedy.

  6. This is such terrible news. It is such a shame that people think that they have the right to control / abuse / restrict another human being.
    I’m saddened more from some of the responses on here. Domestic violence is not easy to get away from. Victims are often scared, frightened they won’t be believed or have the abuse minimised, trapped in the cycle of abuse, and afraid of what will happen if and when they leave. Often they go back to abusive partners, due to a variety of reasons which include loss of shelter / home, loss of financial stability, lack of support, threats or the partner “winning them over” saying they will get help / change / be a better person but with no intention of doing so.
    I’m a survivor of DV and have experienced horrible things. But its usually only people who have had experience with DV (either in their on life, or with friends and family, or in a professional sense) who understand the intricacies of a DV relationship which seems so black and white to the general population.
    I’m not trying to get pity, or to be offensive here, just trying to be informative and hope that my opinion can change the view of DV victims to people who aren’t aware of the difficulties of a DV relationship.

  7. I am not shocked by this terrible news, nor should Robyn Lambley be, because it is all too common – as was the death of a woman asleep on the road only metres from my house last night. Only weeks after two cars were torched here during the night. The contributing factors are too well known.
    Now Robyn claims that anecdotal evidence is acceptable as a reason to celebrate the “success” of police stationed at local shops – when the anecdotal evidence that the banned drinkers register was working was shrugged off as an insufficient basis to continue it.
    Withdrawing the banned drinkers register was a bad decision – possibly partly to blame for these latest deaths. Come on, if anything is working why remove it? Interest in political point scoring over and above any real concern for human life is the consistent theme here – disgusting. You’ll bring back wet canteens on communities next and remain “shocked” when women die.

  8. Let’s get our troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq and start allocating the 100s of millions dollars we were spending killing civilians and focus on things like family violence, AOD misuse and equal representation of First Nation peoples. How dare the Government cry poor, it is not a lack of money, but a lack of accountability!

  9. I commend the Deputy Chief Minister for commenting on this topic. Particularly as we’ve heard nothing from the Minister for Women’s Policy.
    Domestic violence is abominable and is far too common in the NT.
    If the CLP feels as strongly about this as do other members of the community, let’s see some leadership on the issue and useful action. Let’s see something other than criticising previous governments, de-funding of Domestic Violence services and reopening access to alcohol for domestic violence offenders.
    I acknowledge your heartfelt comments Robyn, but actions speak louder than words.

  10. Well said Deborah Rock. I always thought that the first step to solving a problem was to speak up about it, to get it out in the open.
    No wonder people are reluctant to do so when they are sprayed with this vitriolic bile from armchair critics.
    What saddens me is the personal abuse that people here are heaping on Robyn.
    She is a local business woman who has decided to throw her hat into the ring and try and make a difference.
    She stood for election and was duly elected by the people. It seems the writers here seem to be lambasting Robyn for having a cheap shot, but they are doing exactly the same thing against her because their affiliations are with another party.
    She is new to the game, but she is trying.
    I don’t know if I agree with her that it is government policy that has caused the problems. It seems to be that people who think that they have the right to get pissed and then bash other people that is the problem, pure and simple. It is very, very common here. As for Caisley, what a disgusting thing to say about our troops. Killing civilians?? Open your eyes. We are there at the behest of the Afghan government to help to rebuild their country. Do you get it? They asked for help, and our diggers, like always, go out of their way to protect their civilians, to say what you have is obscene and ignorant to the extreme.

  11. I also commend Robyn Lambley for speaking out – I would have been disappointed if she didn’t. This is particularly having just read “Thanks for again raising the unmentionables” by former Coordinator-General for Remote Services in the NT, Bob Beadman.
    Domestic Violence is unfortunately one of those subjects that is deemed politically incorrect to discuss openly. Sadly, it seems the closer one is to the violence, the less they are likely to discuss or report it and the more likely they are in denial of the potential real tragedy and harm it causes to family.
    We can blame governments, funding cuts, access to alcohol, generational dysfunction, youth crime, antisocial behaviour and a myriad of other things but until we get back to basics and really deal with social inclusion on core issues such as employment, housing, training, education, health etc we are going to continue to have these issues with tragic and heartbreaking consequence.
    We need to deal with causal issues and stop reacting to the symptoms of our collective failings. I agree with Lizz Bott. Let’s not let this young women’s death be in vain! It doesn’t end with her death. Her family will be impacted for ever. I don’t care what political persuasion we are – this behaviour is unacceptable in our community and we have to all work together pro-actively and openly and do everything we can to prevent another like tragedy.
    Reporting can be as mandatory as we like but there will be always be minimisation and denial by those involved and those closest to them. This is a harsh and cruel reality of domestic violence that just doesn’t get appropriately acknowledged and dealt with. We have to get in close, monitor, manage and take some real responsibility as a community.
    I trust there will be a full investigation into this incident. Our mothers, sisters and daughters (and our menfolk) are worth every cent and every resource we have to expend. Thankfully there are many strong and respectful men in our community and I thank those who have already taken a stand against all forms of violence.
    Charlie Dick speaks of visitors! So true! I’d also like to ask where the hell is the Federal Government in all this while we are forced as a community to deal with the negative side effects (or unexpected consequences) of the intervention.
    With Alice Springs being the “Big Smoke” for over 250 remote communities we get many visitors for valid reasons but also there are many who come to town to cause strife because they don’t get away with it at their home communities. How about some real funding and real support for urban drift issues, Julia? I know its not the only problem but it would be a good start – particularly with policing (and referral resources) in all our hot spots whether its related to violence, crime or anti-social behaviour.

  12. Challenge is on effectiveness of NT mandatory reporting requirements.
    Investigation is needed into IF family and friends of this woman knew victim was being subjected to extreme violence and abuse by her husband prior to her death.
    IF such investigation shows reasonable cause to answer yes, then those individuals need be charged for failing to report.
    Then matters should be considered by the courts.
    What happens within courts is significant part of public education.
    Responsibility of Government policies, particular where these aim to remove issues away from the courts and public comment, contribute significantly to problems in the NT.
    Community education requires cases be reported, albeit with sufficient anonymity to protect children and others deemed requiring such protection by the courts.
    Protecting privacy of departments who at times appear tasked with keeping issues away from courts and public awareness – perhaps to protect ministers, is an abuse of process, a denial of justice, which bring entire process and the courts into disrepute.

  13. Minister Lambley, you make an utterly unfair assertion against the value of the requirement for mandatory reporting of domestic violence incidents, when you say that “The death of this young woman is a sign that despite the mandatory reporting requirement for domestic and family violence in the Northern Territory, women are still being savagely beaten and murdered in domestic disputes.”
    This is like saying that despite the law requiring us to wear seatbelts, people are still being killed in car accidents, therefore the law is no good.
    It may restore some public faith in your judgement if you would admit that a single incident does not, and cannot, prove or disprove the worth of the mandatory reporting requirement.
    As with seatbelts, the best that can be achieved by mandatory reporting is a reduction in the problem which is meant to be addressed. NOBODY claims that seatbelts will eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries, and NOBODY claims that mandatory reporting would be able to eliminate all domestic violence deaths and serious injuries.
    The fact that a particular policy or action does not provide an absolute solution does not determine the actual worth of the policy or action.
    The worth of a policy lies in the balance of its over-all effects, measured in an intelligent and logical way and based on the full body of evidence. Your government has not bothered to ascertain the balance of evidence in relation to mandatory reporting of DV, just as it did not bother to carefully research the full body of evidence about the worth of the Banned Drinkers Register before abolishing it.
    Look where that has taken us!

  14. Liz Martin @ Jan 4.
    “We can blame governments, funding cuts, access to alcohol, generational dysfunction, youth crime, antisocial behaviour and a myriad of other things but until we get back to basics and really deal with social inclusion on core issues such as employment, housing, training, education, health etc we are going to continue to have these issues with tragic and heartbreaking consequence.”
    I don’t agree, Liz. Until alcohol is further restricted and supply reduced, so that harm reduction is recognised as a major player, all the other things that you list will be operationally diminished.
    The last 30 years will tell you that and I speak from experience.
    “We need to deal with causal issues and stop reacting to the symptoms of our collective failings.” I agree, although you seem to disagree that current alcohol supply is a causal issue. In this tragedy, alcohol was involved as it too often is in domestic violence.
    “I don’t care what political persuasion we are – this behaviour is unacceptable in our community and we have to all work together pro-actively and openly and do everything we can to prevent another like tragedy.’
    I agree, but as Mr Beadman notes in his story, the message doesn’t seem to have got through to the community. Current police operations at take-away licences are reportedly reducing the number of people taken into custody by 50%, but this is a band-aid measure.
    “We have to get in close, monitor, manage and take some real responsibility as a community.” I agree, but many of us have been doing that for a long time.
    The UK government has introduced a floor price, so should we. We need to have at least one day a week take-away sales free (70% of alcohol sold in the NT is take-away). We need to bring back the BDR. Let’s start here, Liz and the others things will be a little easier to implement.

  15. I agree, Russell, that alcohol is a major major issue and you and I have had this discussion before.
    If we don’t get to dealing with the causal issues it doesn’t matter how much we restrict grog. People who really want it will change drinking habits, swap substances to abuse and continue to steal it if they can’t buy it.
    A floor price I can agree on but I don’t believe it can or will work on its own. I am prepared to see what happens. In my area its heavy beer cans and top shelf spirit receptacles left lying all over the scrub any way.
    Alcohol free day? I can see the merits but again I don’t believe it worked in the Tennant Creek Thirsty Thursday experience but as I’ve said to you before I am happy to be convinced.
    My concern is it put drunks on the road endangering other road users as people were prepared to travel great distances to get grog (and still do).
    I just can’t see how banning grog will miraculously get someone a proper house, training, education or a job unless we have strategies in place that will increase self esteem and confidence that will lead to real employment and real social inclusion.
    I guess at the end of the day we are all seeking the same outcome. I have been in NT all my life too (including remote communities) – and watched this debacle from day one, so I speak from experience too – when grog wasn’t available it was vanilla essence or metho and beetroot / orange juice – today it’s petrol sniffing, marijuana and harder drugs.
    Plenty of evidence of that around my boundary unfortunately. While I do think removing the BDR was probably a premature knee jerk reaction it didn’t really stop many drinking anyway. They just hung around the outlets until they got someone else to buy it for them or found a way to steal it (crime stats support that).
    I’ve made a point of watching several major outlets and witnessed deals being done on many occasions. Guess we will have to agree to disagree and all keep working towards a better Alice for all in our own ways.
    As for cops at bottleshops – HURRAH! My experience at several shopping centres and shops I frequent has been greatly enhanced and I applaud the CLP on that initiative.
    I have always said this can never be solved with a one size fits all blanket solution as it is far too complex an issue. I really do admire your commitment but let’s fix it – not argue about it.

  16. I am shocked by the way ms Lambley uses this intense tragic incident to score a political point and I challenge her to explain exactly how the former government failed in this respect and the current one succeeds. A serious politician does not throw serious blame around without proving it. It is easy to express shock over an occurrence like this. Who wouldn’t be shocked. It is easy to lay blame. What I want to hear is what exactly Ms Lambley’s plans are to improve the situation. Without this her words are hollow and sentimental.

  17. What failed this women and others is the system. Women are victimised by the system and the men are supported in their abuse towards women.
    I will explain. A women is abused and her and children if any are removed from the home. The man remains in the home with the car and his world is not disturbed.
    This I will refer to as being rewarded for his aggression. The women and kids are moved to a women’s shelter and advised to leave and set up a new residence, struggle to get furnishings and vehicle. This I will refer to as further victimisation.
    This further victimisation has to end before domestic violence displays any semblance of changing. If the man is violent he must be removed from the home. And placed into a men’s refuge to discuss why he is violent and undergo help.
    And assistance in his ability to understand violence is not acceptable. This response would assist not only the violence emanating from the aggressor but also assist the children that violence is not acceptable.
    The system currently enforces to children that the victim is the bad person after all the perpetrator remains in the house and is not punished for his behaviour. Mum and kids are.
    Perception is the reason why violence continues in our communities and homes. Very easy – remove the offender and leave the mum and kids where they are. The solution is simple.

  18. Liz Martin (Posted January 6, 2013 at 12:38 am), Russell Guy (Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm), Paul Parker (Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm), Deborah Rock (Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:05 am): Let’s work on this, see if we can agree on a comprehensive program, find new allies, and together begin to pressure all levels of government to implement the agreed program in 2013.
    As a start, could we agree on the following:
    1. Governments and private citizens should continue providing the many useful programs for social justice and social inclusion that already exist (e.g. the COAG initiatives for Closing the Gap; FAHCSIA’s Stronger Futures; Alison Anderson’s proposal for assisting responsible outstation dwellers with their housing maintenance; the Commonwealth’s excellent proposal for a new Community Jobs and enterprises program, due to begin in July; the shires’ youth, sport and recreation programs, Night Patrols and aged care services; Centrelink’s social workers, visiting advisers and support for locally based staff in remote communities; CAYLUS’s pioneering work in supporting the needs of young people throughout the bush; the greatly expanded police presence in remote communities; CLC’s Community Development initiatives; Caring for Country; the new efforts, introduced by the Henderson government, to enforce domestic violence prevention and child welfare rules in remote communities; the School Enrolment and Attendance Measures and other education initiatives; the Indigenous Land Corporation and Indigenous Business Australia programs; plus many others of this ilk).
    2. We must also strengthen this set of social justice / inclusion initiatives by lobbying to have them supplemented with new and improved projects where there are unmet needs. (Some examples could include expanding the nurse home visitation program for young mothers throughout the NT; expanding and consolidating professionally staffed pre-schools for remote children from age 3; some new housing where there are dangerously overcrowded dwellings for families at places like Areyonga, Atitjere, Santa Teresa and Docker River; adequate accommodation for all workers in remote communities, including those recruited locally; greatly expanded social housing stock in NT urban centres; greater resources for teachers in remote schools; introduction of counseling, education and training courses for all prisoners, including short termers; greater police capacity where this is needed to enable local police to engage in community policing and developing strong bonds with responsible community leaders; improved roads, airstrips and other infrastructure throughout the bush; improved practical support for Aboriginal people who want to have a go at running their own family-based enterprise or other small business).
    3. Governments should also continue funding the existing outreach, intervention and treatment services provided by alcohol and other drug programs and health services such as those at DASA, CAAAPU, ADSCA / Remote Health, CAAC, WAHAC, Mpwellare Health, BRADAAG etc, where these are effective.
    4. We should try to persuade governments to supplement these huge existing (and mainly tax payer funded) investments in provision of social inclusion programs with an integrated approach to turning down the general substance abuse epidemic by means of a more effective drug and alcohol supply and demand reduction strategy.
    This integrated strategy could be based on:-
    i. maintaining the current restrictions on alcohol products, trading hours and outlet licences;
    ii. introducing a compulsory floor price (to raise the price of cheap wines to make them approximately comparable with the price of beer, when measured in terms of alcohol content; and prevent dangerous discounting of other alcohol beverage prices);
    iii. creating one or more days per week free from sales of take-away alcohol throughout the whole of central Australia;
    iv. establishing a revised version of the Banned Drinkers Register (BDR) whereby patrons entering all bars would have their IDs screened, as well as at take-away outlets.
    5. These supply and demand reduction measures could be complemented by:
    i. requiring referral of regular or self-destructively intoxicated Sobering Up Shelter clients to the AOD Tribunal for screening and counseling;
    ii. expansion of rehabilitation service funding to enable clients to spend much longer periods in residential treatment;
    iii. expanded day-care and after-care services for those going through and moving out of treatment / rehab programs;
    iv. much greater access to suitable supported accommodation for the rehabilitees during and after their treatment.
    The cost of these measures, including the expanded social inclusion and treatment measures, would almost certainly be recouped from reductions in need for spending on hospitals and other health services, policing, ambulance services, insurance, vandalism, crime, litter, ineffective education and training programs, failed employment programs, public housing repairs, prisons, courts and in many other realms of our governmental, civic and private lives.

  19. Bob Durnan presents good ideas of types of programs needed, in his post January 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm.
    Yet major difficulty remains the relevant corporate landowners who long obstructed provisions for such developments and programs.
    Until these corporate landowners demonstrate change of approach, starting with regular leases of blocks with reasonable standard tenancy leases, exists little rationale of commitments to spend further public or private monies on private land developments.
    As these corporate landowners like pointing out, they are private landowners.
    Until these corporate landlords issue valid leases, of standards acceptable to tenants and funding bodies for these programs, these corporate landowners need use their own funds for their needed developments.
    Residents of these communities, many of them shareholders in these corporate landowning bodies, need raise these needs, or need for development leases, at each meeting with their corporate landowners or their agents the Central Land Council.
    IF as shareholder / “Traditional Owners” they remain unable to convince their corporate landowner / landlords to make required changes they may raise with Commonwealth their desire to divide their corporate landowning entities into more responsive entities, with new more responsive agents.
    IF a family purchases a block of land in Alice Springs will the government pay to build them the house?

  20. This article by Lambley is a cheap and tawdry attempt to score political points against the former government and disguise the fact that Lambley has already sacked several staff who work in this field. It is unprofessional of her to involve herself in a family’s grief but maybe it indicates that she will leave politics and return to being a social worker again? One can only hope and pray.

  21. Hi. I would like to speak to Robyn Lambley about my sister who was murdered in Abbott’s camp in Alice Springs.


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