On Tuesday, May 1, leading advocacy group Brain Injury Australia launched a confronting report. Titled ‘The prevalence of acquired brain injury among victims and perpetrators of family violence‘, the report’s findings were horrific – that 40 per cent of victims of family violence who presented at Victorian hospitals were suffering an acquired brain injury, for starters. Plus a bunch of damaged kids. Plus all the ones who don’t show up at hospital.
Brain Injury Australia wanted the launch to make a splash and wanted to push governments and health sector leaders to adopt the report’s recommendations because lives are literally at stake.
I was honoured to be asked to help with the media for the launch, which was in the Swanston Room at the Melbourne Town Hall, and then I live-tweeted and social media-reported the event as it happened.
It was a tough event. There were repeated reminders of Lifeline and other support numbers, and counsellors were available on site in case any victims in the audience started to struggle with resurfacing emotions. The 2015 Australian Of The Year, Rosie Batty, who has turned the tragic death of her son Luke into a heroic and tireless campaign against family violence, officially launched the report with an emotional and heartbreakingly frank speech.
A long-time spokeswoman against violence, a former Victorian nominee for Australian of the Year, and also herself a victim of domestic violence, Anj Barker, was also there. Anj’s story is horrific, from when an ex-boyfriend almost killed her, leaving her in a wheelchair and with speech and other problems associated with an acquired brain injury. My other company, Media Giants, created a very harrowing documentary about Anj, called ‘Loves Me, Loves Me Not‘ years ago, so it was wonderful to see her looking so strong, healthy and powerful in this space.
We had some good media – especially given George Pell was in court just up the road to the west on the same day, while the Victorian Budget lock-up was happening just to the east, up Collins Street.
The report was created by Brain Injury Australia along with partners, including Domestic Violence Victoria, Monash University, No to Violence (incorporating the Men’s Referral Service) and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare.
I hope it gets noticed by those who matter. There are a lot of victims who need help, and potential perpetrators with acquired brain injuries who need to be guided to less violent outcomes.