My sister was killed, allegedly in an alcohol fueled incident


Sir – [Yesterday] I woke to a phone call telling me my sister had been killed. I am devastated.
Violence against any person should not be tolerated in our society regardless of age, race, culture, wealth and geography. I have been a victim and also witnessed violence in our communities.  We, as a society, must stop this cycle of violence.
We all know the challenges faced here in the Northern Territory with 63 per cent of assault victims being women and 59 per cent of all assault offences associated with domestic violence.
Despite the fact that Aboriginal women in the NT make up only 0.3 per cent of all Australian women, they account for 14 per cent of all the female hospitalisations for assault in the entire country.
Violence of any type is an issue that we as a community cannot remain silent about.  It is a conversation we must have, for the sake of our families, friends and colleagues.
For those victims who are unable to get help, we must support them.  For the voiceless, we must speak for them.  And for those who perpetrate violence, we must collectively condemn their behaviour.
I want my fellow Indigenous Territorians to stand up and ‘no more’. Change will only come if, and when, we all work together.
My sister was allegedly killed in an alcohol fueled incident in a Katherine town camp overnight.
This is why I support taking a hard line on tackling alcohol abuse through a suite of programs including Alcohol Mandatory Treatment, Alcohol Protection Orders and Temporary Beat Locations.
These policies are starting to have an effect, but there is more work to do.
We would all prefer these measures weren’t necessary at all but we are committed to doing whatever it takes to break the cycle of alcohol misuse and violence in our community.
As I have said many times, protecting women and children from violence is my top priority and what happened to my sister has happened to far too many women in the Northern Territory.
I will work with my Cabinet colleagues to introduce tough anti-violence education programs in our schools and homes to break this cycle.
No family should have to endure the trauma of a senseless death.
As long as I am in Parliament, I won’t stop working to turn this situation around and I ask you all to work with me to achieve this.
Bess Price (pictured)
MLA for Stuart

Alice Springs


  1. I agree – nobody should have to put up with it. However there is an added issue to this particularly with women and children. Once the violence is committed then a variety of people get involved – including those who are particularly trained to search for vulnerable people at times when disaster strikes.
    They then want to take over the life of someone who is looking for support, with the intention of getting whatever they can financially from that person. Watch who turns up at funerals when people die suddenly claiming friendship but in reality knowing it is the best time to get hold of finance from others.
    I knew some in this town including myself and my kids that were placed in that situation. We were not even allowed to know the exact circumstance of my husband’s death – nor were we allowed to view his body.

  2. A tragedy but Bess Price’s letter seeks to make political capital out of it.
    It reads as if it was written by a CLP media adviser.
    The impression that Bess is manipulated by others is not diminished by this letter and by all accounts she has not stood up in Cabinet with her own ideas about how violence towards women can be addressed.
    Time to hear from the real Bess Price.

  3. Agreed interested observer. Bizarre that a “Minister” would pledge for the violence to stop. She is a Minister, she is in Government – rally the colleagues and create damn change! Bess understands the bush, she’s blamed Alison Anderson for exactly what she’s doing now – nothing (?).

  4. Bess,
    I am sorry for the loss of your sister. My heart goes out to you. I hope that you are able to get support you need in taking the hard line against alcohol so this senseless violence can be minimised as soon as possible.
    Love and courage to you.

  5. @ Michael.
    Thanks for leading the way in sympathy. I add my sincere condolences too, Bess. You are deserving of every support in the circumstances, both personal and political. All power to you.

  6. So now we have an anonymous interested observer who tells us what goes on in cabinet meetings in Darwin and an Aaron without a last name who is an expert on solving violence.
    You accuse my mother of trying to make political capital out of the death of her sister, my Aunty.
    We as a family have been campaigning for decades against the violence that is killing our loved ones. During that time we, most especially my mother, have been continuously vilified by anonymous cowards like yourself on the internet.
    And of course we will take every opportunity to draw the attention of the public to ongoing tragedy. We will use whatever means we have to in order to do all we can to save lives and we will accept the help of any decent soul who is willing to help; including CLP staffers who actually also care about the issue and want to help wherever they can.
    What appears above as a letter to the editor was in actual fact sent to all media outlets as a media release. This is normal procedure with all government members of all parties.
    And yes my mother was helped in that process since at the time she had just heard of the violent death of her sister. Tell me “interested observer” and that is all you are, how many of your close loved ones have been murdered?
    Do you know how hard it is to function normally at such times? My mother has been continuing to work as a way of continuing her grief but there is a limit to how much work can be done at such times and she gratefully accepts the help and support of her hard working staff.
    They never release anything in her name without her express permission and only after lengthy consultation.
    However most of what we do we do out of the public eye.
    We work continuously with family and community members and organisations that support them. We do it on the ground, face to face.
    We also do that with the support of my mother’s staff who regularly put in hours and efforts well beyond what they are paid to do.
    You, interested observer, wouldn’t know about it.
    Your powers of observation are pretty weak. You confidently tell us what happens during Cabinet meetings though. You are not one of my mother’s colleagues, obviously.
    If you are taking your advice from a former colleague then you are being told lies. My mother regularly raises the issue of violence in every forum she attends, including Cabinet.
    She recently attended a UN Forum on violence against women in New York and was invited to the White House to discuss the issue with Michelle Obama’s staff, another first for an Aboriginal politician.
    Because of her work our government was the first in Australia to formerly acknowledge and support the Foundation to prevent violence against women and their children headed by Natasha Stott-Despoja. That made me enormously proud to be a Territorian.
    None of this was told to the public by the media because they were too preoccupied with the antics of Alison Anderson in her ongoing efforts to undermine every decent thing that both a Labor and CLP government have done to help the people she is paid to represent.
    If you are taking your orders from a former colleague then you are trying to do, on their behalf, what you accuse my mother of, making political capital out of our tragedy and our grief.
    Under the cover of cowardly anonymity you are happy to grievously insult not only my mother but myself and our whole extended family, not to mention the Cabinet, the government and every decent minded Territorian. You are a coward. I challenge you to tell us who you are.
    I’m very curious to know. If you have the temerity to insult one of the few Aboriginal leaders to have publicly fought against the violence that is destroying OUR families at least you can have the guts to face us in the cold light of day.
    Let’s try a little open and frank debate for a change. I am not going to enter into an ongoing tit-for-tat conversation with a coward like yourself. We are in mourning and at the best of times it is a waste of time.
    You have your own agenda that you are not going to be honest about. But I really want to know the name of the coward who so brazenly insults us. Try a little courage for a change, you know who I am.

  7. Bess, Jacinta and your entire family my heart goes out to you at this terrible time of loss. This letter makes me proud. This is not asking for sympathy, this is a passionate promise from a strong woman who is pledging to do all she can to stop this.
    If Bess was not in Parliament, I am sure she would still be saying the same thing. Keep your political agendas out of it, people, and have a heart for a change. See it for what it is and get behind her, no matter what party she is in. We need to stop this. RIP.

  8. Interested observer, you are a very sad person indeed. You remind me of my friend Marlene, a woman who never achieved very much and hates herself and the world. It is great when you offer lots of opinions, but a few facts would have been nice.

  9. I saw this reference from a FB article.
    I have lived in the NT, I, as a white woman, have experienced Domestic Violence.
    My comment is: Domestic Violence is real. This is not a ‘race’ or ‘culture’ issue; it is a human evolution event.
    Alcohol is not a cultural evolution within Australian Aboriginal life.
    It is a introduction which has superseded any traditional or ‘western’ influence.
    No death is minimal, no death is unimportant.
    All society needs to address the issue of what alcohol, or the excuse of what alcohol can do.
    Please extend my sorrow at what has happened; and my wish for better education, better intervention, and better results for all.

  10. I am posting my own name here, in support of non-violence and of Bess and her family.
    I think it is pretty shoddy when people take snipes at a time of grieving without saying who they are.
    The Territory is small enough that we can be honest and personal and decent about things.
    Sorry this has happened. Condolences to Bess, Dave, Jacinta and all family.

  11. @ Jacinta: My deepest sympathies to you Bess, Dave and family. I am certain that the wider community of all political persuasions recognise your mum’s enormous contributions in this and many other areas of Territory life, from the pitchers plate on the softball field to the Territory’s Parliament, Bess Price’s contribution leads the way in uniting a divided community. Her strength, composure and determination make a difference even in the face of personal tragedy. This is an inspiration. The Price family is out there in the open fighting to make a difference. What’s your contribution, “Interested”?

  12. Bess Price is responsible for creating the disquiet I am describing.
    She stays with the CLP while the three other Indigenous MLA leave and I make no judgement about that.
    But then her husband makes an extraordinary defence of her actions, lauding the virtues of loyalty. It is both a personal and political statement that defends his wife and attacks the rebel MPs. I cannot imagine any other politician tolerating that and of course this is by far from an isolated example.
    Now we have Bess’s statement that was obviously written by a CLP adviser. That statement needed to be straight from the heart but it has been tarnished by the obvious intrusion of the adviser who turns it into a political statement.
    I don’t favour a particular side but at least when Alison Anderson speaks you know it is her and that she has personal conviction.
    I expect no less from any MLA.

  13. Condolences to you and your family in this very sad time Bess.
    You are very right, we all have to stand together and say no more to violence.
    But what I am asking you as a leader is the how. Surely the time has passed for conversation when women, men and children continue to be killed and hurt.
    I am very interested to know what mechanisms you are putting in place to galvanise support for stopping the violence? What programs is your Government supporting and putting in place to intervene and give victims the power to become survivors? How can ordinary people like me get involved?
    Women, children and families in these horrific situations don’t need more talk. They need action to address the reasons this is happening and to prevent the horrific toll continuing into the future.

  14. Reading through the comments I am absolutely furious. Above and beyond anything else, be it colour, creed or political persuasion, is the fact that out there is another family hurting because of domestic violence.
    I come from a family who had divided political expectations, divided cultural expectations and who have for years been saying things like I have to wait to get my own money because someone else needs it more than me.
    I watch the children of these people who just go around demanding money from people who work and who subtly threaten people when they don’t give it to them.
    I am absolutely disgusted with some of the above comments. They really are heartless. We as a family have suffered for years because of something similar.
    My children have been threatened because of something like this. I know these people and I say to them that the ringleaders are often too cowardly to come out in the open and often force others to do their dirty work.
    Some who tried to blame me for everything that happened here are ones who have been having a go at us, saying we don’t deserve to even have our own money or jobs.
    I hate what they do and they have victimised me and my kids for years trying to get us under control.
    It is literally ganging up on people and they display cult like behaviour. Like I said, it makes me want to cry to see some of the disgusting comments above.

  15. Bev: To really do something about violence we must do more than express outrage. The best outcome of outrage is effective action because I doubt that outrage by itself has much real effect.
    The opinions of the outraged as to which actions are likely to be effective are not sacrosanct in any way.
    To accept that Bess is heartbroken mustn’t be allowed to pave the way for blind acceptance of the CLP policies she endorses. The victims of violence deserve much more than that.
    So questioning the politics of the letter written for Bess by a CLP adviser or asking her what she, as opposed to the CLP, believes will work should not disgust you.
    Those of us asking the questions are no less sympathetic to Bess but absolutely want the best possible policies to protect the vulnerable in our society.

  16. My thoughts are with you Bess, Dave, Jacinta and family.
    Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in alleviating violence at all levels and the answer eludes us.

  17. Interested Observer – it is quite clear you are a labor troll. Go back to your cave.
    If you think Alison writes any of the drivel she speaks, you are stupid. Norm, Nicholas or one of her other drones does it.
    You can bet Nova doesn’t write her media releases either – Gino does. So stop being a hypocrite.
    You simply want to pick a straw man to distract from the real issues – Bess is doing something about violence and you and your leftard mates hate it. You think Aboriginal people are your sole domain, and you hate the fact that this amazing, inspiring and strong Aboriginal woman isn’t in your pocket to put on a leash.
    Bess – keep up the great work! Who cares that an obviously caring, dedicated, loyal and intelligent staff member wrote that superb piece for you – no doubt it was (a) based on exactly how you felt and (b) done with your full approval.
    Keep up the great work!

  18. Interested Observer has a right to express opinions and Erwin sticks to his policy of allowing him / her to do anonymously. Lowers the tone of the discussion as I’ve pointed out before, yet the editor remains adamant it seems.
    Can I therefore suggest ‘I.O.’ choose another nom de plume? Cowardly Custard? Yet to grow a backbone? or similar.
    Sympathies to Bess and family for their loss, and having to put up with anonymous potshots.

  19. Ian. I don’t think that anonymity is such a bad thing for ordinary citizens who want to make a point without being personally attacked.
    It’s different for elected politicians, for whom there is an expectation that they will open up to the rest of us.
    Bess Price is spoken for by others far more than any other MLA, in fact I can’t imagine any other MLA wanting their partners, family members, party spin doctors and others like yourself to defend them while they remain silent.
    At this point the silence is deafening.
    Like I said, time to hear from Bess Price.

  20. Have the courage of your convictions, Interested Observer. It is not pre-revolutionary France or Nazi Germany. I don’t see much difference here and now between non de plumes and scribbling on dunny walls. Stand up straight.

  21. Ian. Your dislike of anonymous posts on these pages has been thoroughly aired in the past and comprehensively responded to by a number of readers. I note that you did not challenge the counter argument so I would think your complaints are merely a distraction.
    Also looking back, over MLA Bess Price’s news stories, there is a consistent pattern.
    Last year (link below) Bess expressed similar outrage but that was followed by an attack on the left of politics very reminiscent of her husband’s hobby horse.
    The comments on that story were dominated by her husband who promoted himself as part of the Bess Price team, even outlining his qualifications and work experience, and he works for free.
    Dave makes it clear that he doesn’t think that governments can do much about violence towards Aboriginal women and that change will require Aboriginal men to see the problem and take action.
    Of course, MLAs have to go beyond outrage and are expected to promote effective policies to address a problem.
    It seems likely that team Price do not really know what to do about violence and are not convinced that governments can do much. That’s probably why Bess can unquestioningly embrace the suite of CLP policies and have CLP media advisers write her stories.

  22. I have been to a number of white ribbon day events, where pledges are made and promises made not to tolerate against women is treated with the contempt it deserves. However, most of the people who attend are not the perpetrators. What a shame that it still occurs, and now we have a very public figure who has experienced it once again.
    I can only hope that this experience and loss is a catalyst for change. Dave, you are obviously also deeply affected and frustrated by this terrible and tragic loss. Condolences to you both.


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