Enough’s enough

Domestic homicide in Tasmania

In  September 1983, Maureen Thompson, was murdered, cut into pieces, and flushed down the toilet of her West Hobart home.
She had been to the police. She had fled to the shelter. She had a restraint order.
The police failed to protect her.
Robyn Hopcroft was commissioned to write the ‘Report into Domestic Violence in Tasmania’. This seminal work ‘…recommended that the police be enabled to apply for restraining orders, intervene if violence was threatened, revoke firearm licences, and take guns from premises.’ (Evans 2006).
Robin Gray’s Liberal government failed to act on her recommendations.
Three brave and enraged women, took to a Hobart wall with spray paint: ‘Maureen Thompson’s blood is on your hands. Act on the Hopcroft Report’.


They were apprehended, charged, went before the court and received a custodial sentence. For graffiti on a wall.
While they waited for their appeal in prison, more women lined up against that wall with placards, ‘Justice not Walls’.
The Government finally responded with the Justices Act 1985 which strengthened police powers to act on domestic violence.
Tasmania now has the Family Violence Act 2004 and a safe at home policy. Its powerful premise is that victims of violence have a right to stay in their homes and it is the perpetrator who should be mandated to leave.
The policy has received its fair share of accolades, but is it working?
ABS reports 13 homicides in Tasmania in 2009 and intimate relationships are the most common relationship category for homicides (McInnes 2012).
Jessica Ann Kupsch
A 20 day old baby from Railton
Meagan Wilton and boyfriend, Benjamin Samual Eyles
Angela Hallam and boyfriend, Joshua Eric Newman
These are the people who have been victims of domestic violence in Tasmania this year.
They were unnecessary deaths.
Domestic violence escalates to homicide.
There is always a history, of any, or all combinations of, physical, sexual, financial, emotional and social abuse.
Women and children are most of the victims. Sometimes, their new relationships are also victims.
There is still not enough done to protect them.
Police must take each call seriously and respond.
They must act and make restraint orders, regardless of whether the victim protests, remove the perpetrator and the victim too, if that is what is required for her and her children to be safe.
They must prosecute breaches.
We need new funding for effective prevention and treatment services for perpetrators, not funding models that compromise victims’ services.
We need to maintain funding for women’s specific services that respond to crisis.
We must all act when we know someone is experiencing violence. Demand the police attend, make referrals, get them to safety.
And we work towards a world of genuine equality, because that is when we will have a world where violence against women and children no longer exists.
‘Their deaths are
not unpredictable, isolated events without context or warning.
Most of the
victims….reached out for help.
They planned with
friends, family and co-workers.
They went to
therapists, attorneys and health care providers.
They called
They went to
They worked with
domestic violence advocates.
They stayed in
They struggled to
be mothers and friends and students and employees and volunteers and to
contribute to their communities in the face of terrible violence from someone
close to them…’
that we know’ Recommendations from Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality
Review December 2008 (Betty Green 2012) quoted in McInnes 2012.
 Act on domestic violence. No more lives lost.
Domestic violence crisis – 1800 608 122 – 9 am to midnight
weekdays. 4 pm to midnight weekends and public holidays.
Family Violence Response and Referral Line (police) – 1800
6339 37
24 hours, 7 days a week.
In all emergencies call the Police 000 line.
Evans, Caroline 2006, ‘Domestic Violence’, The Companion to Tasmanian History,
viewed 20 December 2012, <http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/D/Domestic%20Violence.htm>
McInnes, Espeth 2012, Reviewing Domestic Violence Related Fatalities, presentation to
Death Review Board Roundtable, Launceston, December 2012.

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