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Tragedy In Melbourne

30 January 2009
Media Release


Preventing Violence in the Home says the horror felt has reverberated though New Zealand and the world.

Preventing Violence in the Home joins with New Zealanders and the rest of the world in horror at the spate of horrific domestic violence related murders, including the latest recent tragedy in Australia, to ask...WHY?

It has been reported a man involved in a bitter custody dispute with his wife has been arrested after he stopped his car on a Melbourne bridge and hurled a 4 year old child off to her death; leaving two young siblings aged 8 and 6 in the car. When an incident as unconscionable as this appears in the media, we all wonder why? Why would a father take this terrible action?

Over the next few days we will learn more about the circumstances that led up to this awful loss of young life; and bring further understanding to the context in which the man acted.

It appears the majority of parents who separate are able to sort out between themselves their children’s custody and access arrangements, despite whatever animosity or distress they may be feeling; few resort to custody disputes requiring court intervention, where bitter acrimony means the best interests of the child is often lost in the battle.

Whilst it is impossible to speculate about the man’s actions in this particular incident, Jane Drumm, Executive Director of Preventing Violence in the Home comments,

“In relationships characterized by domestic violence, separation and disputes over children are well known high risk triggers; in similar cases where a child, or children, have been killed by a father motivations have been identified that include:

• The father may have possessive feelings of ownership over his children, so they were his to do with as he pleased, including causing their death.
• The father may feel the children were not independent beings with rights, but an extension of him, intrinsically inter-twined to an obsessive degree. In his mind alone, this could justify his decision that the children’s lives were not worth living; if they could not be with him and they were better off dead.
• The ultimate retributive punishment is taken against a wife and ‘the system which had taken his children’.
• He may also consider killing himself.”

If you, a friend or family member, or a neighbour may be at risk of domestic violence or child abuse, call the toll-free Preventing Violence in the Home helpline on 0508 DVHELP (0508 384 357) for advice and support, or visit our website www.preventingviolence.org.nz and if a situation is potentially dangerous, people call the Police on 111.


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