Rally, march for domestic violence victims
A woman holds a placard during speeches at Stirling Gardens ahead of their march through the streets of Perth. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

Rows of makeshift white coffins in Stirling Gardens, including two child-sized ones, set a sombre tone for a silent march through Perth’s CBD today in memory of the 22 slain victims of domestic violence in WA this year.

At a rally before the march, the Government came under heavy criticism for voting against an Opposition Bill last month that would have doubled the maximum penalties for deadly domestic assaults.

The Government used its numbers to defeat ‘Saori’s law’, introduced to prevent a repeat of the five-year sentence handed to wife-killer Bradley Jones last year which provoked community outrage.

Jones admitted felling his wife Saori with a “full-on punch” and failed to call an ambulance while she bled, vomited and eventually died before her body was discovered 11 days later.

The decomposition of the body prompted the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge Jones with unlawful assault occasioning death – the so-called ‘one punch’ charge – rather than manslaughter.

Unlawful assault occasioning death has a maximum penalty of 10 years and Saori’s law proposed to increase that to 20 years in circumstances of aggravation, including domestic violence situations.

Women’s Council for Domestic and family Violence Services WA chief executive Angela Hartwig told the rally she was “disgusted” with the Government’s lack of support for the Bill.

“The community were calling for a more appropriate legislative response in cases where there was an established history of family and domestic violence,” she said, adding that a petition of 3000 signatures had been presented to Parliament in support of the Bill.

“The State Government voted down proposed legislation that would have ensured that women were treated well and people that commit acts of extreme violence resulting in death do not receive minimum punishments.

Catherine Aldagul shares her own story at a rally at Stirling Gardens. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

“If we are tough on crime and serious about it then why wasn’t this passed?

“So the word is out. You can get away with murder in this State by claiming you did not mean to kill your partner when there’s been a history of violence and the circumstances of the death clearly indicated that it was more than one punch.”

Police Minister Liza Harvey told the crowd she and Premier Colin Barnett were determined to fill the gap in services for victims of domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is unacceptable and tackling it must remain a priority for the community and for all arms of Government,” she said.

The West Australian

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