Appalling epidemic must be squashed
I MOVED with my family to the Gold Coast six years ago.
After many years living in Ireland, it was a big move. Even the pets came along.
But in many ways it was easy. Australia will always be home, and most things were familiar.
Work was much the same as in Ireland. The Bulletin had challenges familiar to media around the world, my previous employers in Dublin included.
There was one difference though, and it struck me early in my time here.
As in all newsrooms at that time, the Bulletin was equipped with a police scanner. Its hiss and crackle was a familiar sound. We had one in Dublin too.
But there was one key, unmistakeable difference. Night after night police were being called to an endless stream of domestic violence incidents.
I was astonished how many there were, but my ears did not deceive me. Statistics show Gold Coast police are dealing with more than 20 DV callouts a day.
Fast forward another year and I was in the front garden of my home at Helensvale. I had noticed the sounds of a chopper hovering overhead. Gazing up, it was clearly a police helicopter.
I phoned the office. "Check in with the cops, something's going on."
They already knew. Karina Lock had been shot dead - murdered in the nearby McDonald's in Siganto Drive where I had so recently taken my children.
There was real anger, real hurt among everyone I met that afternoon. A crisis had been laid bare. Just two days earlier Tara Brown was murdered at Molendinar.
That week was anything but normal.
And then last week. The police scanners have fallen silent, relegated like fax machines and typewriters to the analogue age.
This time the first indication came via the more modern medium of Twitter. A car was on fire at Camp Hill in Brisbane. Could be children inside.
Before the awful truth was confirmed, we knew instinctively what was going on. "Sounds like a DV. Jesus."
I don't think there has ever been a case so horrific. The only other public execution by burning I can think of in recent years was perpetrated by ISIS terrorists. I'm not sure even those bastards could bring themselves to do it to children.
This is the scale of the problem we are dealing with.
How do we explain what is happening here? What has happened to Tara Brown, Karina Lock and now Hannah Clarke and her children? We can't.
It is not normal, it is not something anyone can be "driven to" and no Pauline Hanson, we sure as hell cannot accept that "these things happen".
Like terror, it defies all reason.
Which is why the response needs to be similar. Protection for the victims - zero mercy for the perpetrators.
In the wake of the horrific week we lost Tara Brown and Karina Lock, a special police domestic and family violence taskforce was established on the Coast to tackle the scourge of domestic violence.
It takes a New York-style "zero tolerance" approach. Offenders are relentlessly targeted and prosecuted for every possible transgression.
It also works with other agencies and charities to help victims find a place of safe refuge.
The taskforce has been a success - cases on the Gold Coast are down, including those of the most violent kind.
There is a fair chance that if it existed in Brisbane, it would have had the Camp Hill murderer on its radar.
The Queensland Women's Legal Service on Monday called on the State Government to replicate the work of the taskforce throughout Queensland. This seems like a no-brainer.
"High-risk offenders need to be monitored," chief executive Angela Lynch said. "It happens on the Gold Coast but it needs to be rolled out across the state."
They also called for the implementation of a new offence of coercive control - another excellent suggestion.
Government should listen and act quickly. Hannah Clarke's murderer had a DVO against him. The current system just isn't working.
You know, when we moved to the Gold Coast it was because we reckoned there was no better place on Earth to bring up our three daughters. And by God that's true.
But the domestic violence epidemic is different. Its scale astonishes. So too do the extremes of terror and violence.
We need urgent change in Queensland, of the kind pioneered on the Gold Coast. Because we cannot let this be our "normal".