Ballarat rallies against violence after three killings

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Samantha Murphy’s husband has made a surprise appearance at a rally calling for an end to violence against women, thanking the large crowd for their support.

Michael Murphy said he had not planned to speak to the crowd, but felt compelled when he saw the large turnout.

“I’d like to thank you all for coming and supporting the families of the three women,” he said.

“If you see something that’s not right, speak up. Let the authorities know,” Mr Murphy said.

A “Bring Sam home”, chant echoed loud from the crowd.

The rally was organised as the regional Victorian city reeled from the killings of three women in two months – Samantha Murphy, Hannah McGuire and Rebecca Young.

The mother of Rebecca Young made an emotional plea at the rally.

Trace Young said “to move on without Bec seems impossible”.

“It might be goodbye Beccy, but your story lives on. Violence against women has to stop,” she said.

Rebecca’s younger sister Jessica said it was bitter sweet standing on stage because it was too late to save her sister, but there was hope other lives could be saved.

The Young family thanked the crowd for standing up against violence to women and offered their condolences to the Murphy and McGuire families.

“I will always miss my beautiful sister. Fly high Bec. Enough is enough,” Jessica Young said.

The Enough is Enough – Snap Rally Against Mens Violence in Ballarat was organised by former Greens Senate candidate Sissy Austin.

“It’s time to come together to stand against violence and murder of women in our community,” Ms Austin said

“Women are not feeling safe in our town. Women are living on eggshells, living on edge,” she said.

Councillor Belinda Coates, speaking to the crowd, said the motivating factor for the rally was the loss of Rebeca, Samantha and Hannah.

“Their lives matter. All lives matter,” Ms Coates told the rally.

“Everyone here has been impacted by gender based violence. We see you, we hear you and we believe you.

“We’re here with a good dose of rage. A lot of anger.”

Ms Coates said the crowd could channel love and rage into change.

“There are people watching Ballarat … this is a Ballarat issue, this is a national issue, this is a global issue.”

On February 16, mother Rebecca Young was killed by her partner in a suspected murder suicide.

On April 5 police found the body of 23-year-old Hannah McGuire in a burnt out car to the southwest of Ballarat.

Mother Samantha Murphy, 51, was last seen going for a jog on February 4.

Partick Orren Stephenson, 22, has been charged with her murder. Searches for Ms Murphy’s body resumed this week.

Ms McGuire’s former boyfriend, 21-year-old Lachlan Young, has been charged with murder.

Ms Murphy, Ms Young and Ms McGuire “should still be with us here today”, Ms Austin said.

“It is not normal for our beautiful bushlands to become known for a place where mens violence is perpetrated on our bodies.

“Men’s violence needs to be called out. We also need men to stand with us in the fight,” Ms Austin said.

Federal MP for Ballarat, Transport Minister Catherine King, said the violence which happened to the three slain women happened to women in the community every day.

“After so many reports, after so many inquires, after so many deaths … every space should be and must be safe wherever we are,” Ms King said.

“Let’s be frank; men need to change,” Ms King said to cheers and applause.

The Hamilton family joined the rally holding, signs with the dead women’s names, and mother placard reading “men of quality do not fear equality”.

Grace Hamilton, 19, said she was there to spread the message that women should not have to live in fear.

“I shouldn’t have to worry about myself when I want to go for a run or when I’m in my home by myself,” she said.

Ms Hamilton would teach her six-year-old brother Hamish that women needs to be respected and feel safe.

Ballarat women Grace and Lisa have a family connection: their niece was best friends with Hannah McGuire.

Lisa has personally experience family violence and says the Ballarat community is determined to raise awareness of the issue.

The Ballarat police were doing all they could within the bounds of the law, Lisa said, but family violence perpetrators were not doing the counselling they should.

Meredith Barclay, of Buninyong, went to the rally to show solidarity for women across all sectors of society who have suffered violence.

Ms Barclay has a 23 year old daughter who no longer wants to walk in the bush since the killings.

“It has impacted people’s sense of safety and right to walk alone,” she said.

More to come