Grieving community urges end to cycle of male violence

William Ton |

Men, women and children have gathered in Ballarat to rally against violence in their community.
Men, women and children have gathered in Ballarat to rally against violence in their community.

A community grieving three women stolen from their families and friends and allegedly murdered by men have been urged to break the cycle of violence.

A rally on Friday featured more than a thousand women and their allies marching through the streets of Ballarat demanding an end to male violence.

Three women from the regional city – Samantha Murphy, Rebecca Young and Hannah McGuire – have all allegedly died at the hands of men since February.

“Enough is enough,” the crowd chanted, as they expressed their anger and sadness over the lives loss.

Ms Murphy left her Ballarat home for a regular run on the morning of February 4 and never returned.

Photos of recent victims
The lives of Samantha Murphy, Rebecca Young and Hannah McGuire have been remembered in Ballarat. (Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS)

Police have charged 22-year-old tradesman, and son of former AFL player Orren Stephenson, Patrick Orren Stephenson with her murder at Mount Clear on the day she went missing.

A renewed search for Ms Murphy’s body at Enfield State Park, about 30km from her home, on Thursday and Friday proved unsuccessful despite new information arising.

About a fortnight after Ms Murphy’s disappearance, Ballarat mother-of-five Rebecca Young was allegedly stabbed to death by her partner before he took his own life in a suspected murder-suicide at their Sebastapool home.

The body of 23-year-old Hannah McGuire was found in a burnt out car at Scarsdale, about 25km south of Ballarat, on April 5.

Lachlan Young, 21, allegedly known to Ms McGuire, has been charged with her murder.

Mick Murphy
Mick Murphy thanked the community and the police for their tireless work trying to find Samantha. (Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS)

Speaking to the crowd, gendered violence prevention organisation chief executive Patty Kinnersly said the community had the power to change course and help stop violence against women.

“It is the way we speak to the children in our lives,” she said.

“That we don’t get caught up on gender stereotypes that girls can only do this and boys can only do that.

“We don’t limit our children – and we need to start talking to our children like that.”

Federal Ballarat MP Catherine King said it was important to ensure boys were being taught how to treat women with respect.

“How we raise and care for our boys matters,” she said.

The families and friends of the three murdered women addressed the crowd, remembering each of them as incredible people who brought joy to their lives.

Ms Murphy’s husband Mick Murphy thanked the community and the police for their tireless work trying to find Samantha.

“The support here behind the women and (against) violence is incredible,” he told the crowd on Friday.

Ms Young’s sister Jessica hoped the rally could inspire the change that could save others while calling for more funding for victim support programs.

Ms McGuire’s friends described her as an amazing woman, friend and hype girl who will be sorely missed.

Rally organiser Sissy Austin, who was herself savagely attacked while on a run in 2023, said the community was there to wrap themselves around the families experiencing unimaginable grief.

“Us Ballarat women, we’re coming together to stand in solidarity, to feel less alone and to show the country we’re united,” she told AAP.

“We’re here to fight for our rights to live safely in our community for generations to come.

One in four Australian women and roughly one in 14 men have been subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner since age 15, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

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