QUEENSLAND FIRST: Memorial to DV victims unveiled
TEARS flowing down her cheeks, Sonia Anderson on Wednesday publicly relived the pain of losing her eldest daughter to domestic violence.
Speaking at the unveiling of Australia's only dedicated memorial for those lost to family abuse, the tireless anti-DV campaigner implored Queenslanders to take a stand against the epidemic that many experts consider to be the nation's biggest social problem.
The small memorial, which sits in a garden bed at Emma Miller Place across from Brisbane's law courts complex, is a sombre reminder of the women, men and children who will never grow old because they died at the hands of those who should have protected them.
Rhys Michael Austin killed Mrs Anderson's daughter, Bianca Girven, on March 30, 2010.
Austin never faced trial for the murder of his 22-year-old girlfriend.
The then 26-year-old was found to be of unsound mind when he put Ms Girven in a "stranglehold" for 10 minutes, crushing the life out of her slight body.
Ms Girven was a prominent Brisbane women's rights advocate who was dedicated to raising her infant son Ziggy in a world free of violence.
"She was strangled to death in a very tortured manner," Mrs Anderson told ARM Newsdesk.
"She actually did a lot of work to help women who were subjected to domestic violence and homelessness.
"She was killed by the same thing that she rallied against."
Mrs Anderson said the past six years represented a "ridiculously painful hell of a journey" for her, for Ms Girven's two younger sisters, her son and her nephews, nieces and friends.
"Losing a child is the worst thing, but it gets worse when it's murder," Mrs Anderson said.
Then it gets even worse when it's betrayal and so much worse when the child you love is tortured.
"You can't go through a worse pain than that."
Mrs Anderson said she was proud that her daughter, and others like her, finally had a memorial dedicated to them.
"It's so wonderful to have this," she said.
"The community can now see how bad this epidemic is.
"Australia has to be ashamed of where we are today.
"I truly hope that my grandchildren when they are adults can look back at this time and be shocked at how bad domestic homicide was."
The memorial was the brainchild of 30-year-old writer Jasmine Rawlinson and 26-year-old uni student Bonnie Sims.
Ms Rawlinson said they deliberately chose to put the plaque across from the state's biggest legal complex because of the number of domestic violence cases that go through Queensland's courts.
"Bonnie and I are just passionate about the issue of violence against women," Ms Rawlinson said.
"We wanted to do something that would make a statement that as a whole society, as a state we have to do more and it can't just be on the supporters, survivors and victims.
"This responsibility has also to be on the courts, the police and all of our legal systems to ensure justice.
"We can't stay quiet about this anymore ."
*For 24-hour support in Queensland phone DVConnect on 1800 811 811, Men's Line on 1800 600 636 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. - ARM NEWSDESK