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Media Analysis Of Domestic Violence In Australia

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Legal definition of the Crime

Domestic Violence is defined by the (Family Law Act 1975) as ‘violent, threatening or other behavior by a person that coerces or controls a member of the persons family or causes the family member to be fearful’ (AMA, 1998). “…any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty” (United Nations, 1993).

Statistics on Family Domestic Violence

A national survey (ABS, 2017) showed that one in six women and one in seventeen men have experienced sexual or physical assault from a current or former partner. Around two thirds of the households where domestic violence are occurring have children living with them. The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Personal Safety Survey (ABS, 2013) found that 21 per cent of women living outside capital cities had experienced violence from an intimate partner since age 15 years, versus 15 per cent of women living in a capital city. (The Australian Longitudinal Survey on Women’s Health, 2014) found that more women aged 18-23 years living in rural, regional and remote areas (15-16 per cent) had experienced partner violence than women living in capital cities (12 per cent)

Thesis Statement

This media analysis will exhibit the trouble of home violence is a complicated one, plenty more complex that the term may convey. Indeed, domestic violence is complex in terms of its very definition, complicated in phrases of gender and complicated in terms of interventions to envision and deal with its occurrence. It will also explore the impact and importance the media has reportage and broadcasting of Family Domestic Violence whether it be newspaper articles, news reports via television or on broadcasting stations and networks. Sensationalism in media can also be defined by the volume of passionate responses from the public. There are also many news stories of domestic violence that aren’t reported on, for whatever reason, due to lack of sources or just lack of interest, bury our heads in the sand mentality. Media in Australia have the potential to be more precise in reflecting the reality of family violence and in turn, ease the communities concern as to how is it reported. Points to be covered on this topic include Family Violence, the role the media have on reporting these incidents and the impact it has on the community and how it affects the public on a whole. Professor Jenny Morgan of Melbourne University (Vic Health p. 1) states there is little doubt that media coverage matters. Women are more likely than men to experience domestic violence and family violence and be injured as a result. (Webster, K., 2016).

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Content Analysis from three sources, ABC News, The Guardian and The Age for 9News on Domestic Violence.

This content analysis will be looking at the devastating effects Domestic Violence has on the victims, extended families and the wider community which has been reported through various media outlets in the last eighteen months. There has recently been a vicious attack on a mother and her three children resulting in their deaths and a suicide of the alleged killer, her estranged husband. Various news outlets have reported on this horrific crime and to analyse the dozens of reports this topic needs to start at the beginning. The common theme in these news stories are the victims, the mother and her three children. The media frame the discussion of the issue by repeating the elements of the story and by using common comparisons such as quoting family members reflections of the victims with local MP’s comments, stating more should be done to prevent more people dying. (The Guardian, 2020). Nine News political reporter Fiona Willan (Nine News, 2020) interviewed two members of parliament, Rebekha Sharkie, member of the Australian House of Representatives and Zali Steggall, OAM, Australian Politian and Lawyer in family Law, and discussed their disbelief and shock at the events that took place while also not surprised the system failed, and continues to fail many unprotected families. This report was outlining the shortcomings of the system the government has in place, mentioning the social, emotional and financial hardships many families experience while feeling isolated from family and friends. There are also the devastated families, holding vigils, trying to make sense of such an overwhelming circumstance. However, there is no reporting in any articles regarding domestic violence inflicted on men. A national survey (ABS, 2017) stated that one in six women and one in seventeen men experienced domestic violence from a current partner or formal partner. This is not reflected during reportage of domestic violence or family violence in any of the articles researched. Some articles were overflowing with tributes to the deceased mother and her children, which also printed family photos in happier times. The reports state the actual crime, describing in some detail the events that unfolded on the day but instead reporting on the support for the family of the victim. The constant use of the word ‘alleged’ or ‘accused’ was found to be used throughout the articles but instead the content language used in The Age was ‘funding’ and ‘need more resources’. This in turn delivers to the reader a compassionate and bias view of the day in question and leave the reader feeling the injustice women and children suffer at the hands of men. It must also be said that each report and content researched ended with a variety of support networks and hotline numbers that can offer support if needed. ABC News headline, Brisbane vigil for Hannah Clarke and her three children hears a ‘beautiful’ mum and her ‘joyous’ kids leads in to the tragic deaths of a mother and her three children who were burnt alive in an alleged domestic violence attack in Brisbane in February. This news story was inundated on social media posts and talk shows in response to domestic violence and why this alleged killer, Rowan Baxter, was able to carry out this vile act with a DVO, Domestic Violence Order, in place at the time of the offence.

The ABC News article was overflowing with tributes to the deceased mother and her children, which also printed family photos in happier times. The report states the actual crime, describing in some detail the events that unfolded on the day but instead reporting on the support the family of the victim, Hannah Clarke, received at a vigil held in honour of her and her children, Aaliyah six, Trey three and the youngest child Laianah four. It also covered a political side with Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington expressing their heartfelt despair at the ‘Domestic Violence epidemic’ gripping the nation. Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner also expressed his despair, saying the community failed the victims. This could be seen as a political opportunity to reinforce to the public the support the government does or does not contribute. The was also a call to fast track a recommendation from Quentin Bryce’s Not Now, Not Ever report to tackle the issue. The report made 140 recommendations based on the insights gathered from 5 months of engagement with communities and individuals. (Bryce, 2015) If anything comes out of this I want it to be a lesson to everybody that family violence happens to everybody no matter how nice your house is, no matter how intelligent you are, it happens to anyone and everyone (Marshall et al. 2014).

Lastly the article ended with various support helplines and Family Violence support services, yet no representative was quoted or sourced for comment regarding such a nationwide outcry for the end of Family Domestic Violence.


  1. 'Family Law Act 1975'. Legislation Australia. Commonwealth Government of Australia. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  2. ABS Personal Safely Survey, Australia, (2013).
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017). Personal Safety Survey, Australia, 2016. ABS.
  4. Australian Medical Association. Position statement on domestic violence. Canberra: AMA, 1998.
  5. Easteal P, Holland K, Judd K. Enduring themes and silences in media portrayals of violence against women. Women's Stud Int Forum. 2015;48:103–13
  12. Marshall, Konrad, Rania Spooner, John Silvester, Jessica Wright, and Mex Cooper. 2014. “Father Kills 11-Year-Old Son. Mother’s Grief and Compassion – Tyabb Tragedy.” The Age, February 14. [Google Scholar]
  13. Sutherland, G., et al (2015) A state of knowledge review of the evidence on media representations of violence against women. Sydney, NSW: Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS).
  14. The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (2014)
  15. Webster, K. (2016). A preventable burden: measuring and addressing the prevalence and health impacts of intimate partner violence in Australian women (ANROWS COMPASS, 07/2016). Sydney: Anrows. hhtp://
  16. Wooley, S., F 2020
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Media Analysis Of Domestic Violence In Australia. (2021, August 23). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“Media Analysis Of Domestic Violence In Australia.” Edubirdie, 23 Aug. 2021,
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Media Analysis Of Domestic Violence In Australia [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Aug 23 [cited 2024 Feb 26]. Available from:
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