The daughter of a woman murdered by her husband on Christmas Day three years ago has told those gathered at one of many vigils held around Australia the thought of dozens of families going through a similar ordeal to hers is almost too much to bear.

A candlelight vigil was held on the parliament lawns in Hobart to pay respect and remember victims of domestic violence around the country.(ABC News: Maren Preuss)

Romany Wake, who was 19 when the murder happened, said Christmas Day was “a day that was meant to be joyous”.

“But as I’ve now discovered, statistically, Christmas Day is one of those days where incidences and murders through domestic, family and gendered violence is at its highest.”

Rachel Wake’s daughter told those at the Hobart vigil “my mum shouldn’t be a statistic. She should be here with me”.(Supplied: Facebook/Rachel’s Voice)

Ms Wake said despite all of the advice given to women as to how to protect themselves in all situations, violence was still happening — often accompanied by commentary blaming the victim.

“Did you walk home with a friend? Did you have your hair tied up with your skirt? Why did you drink the drink? Did you say something to him? Did you say nothing to him? Did you get a restraining order on him? Why? Didn’t you say no? Why didn’t you leave?”

Ms Wake said the amount of women killed at the hands of men in Australia as “not normal”, saying the rate was akin to “one woman or child in every 3.5 days”.

“How on earth do people think that is normal? [So many] families are experiencing the same situation I went through almost three years ago.”

Attendees at the Hobart vigil, which was held on the parliament lawns.(ABC News: Maren Preuss)

Ms Wake spoke the names of many of the victims, adding “you are forever and always remembered” — followed up with a warning.

“To those in power, I’m coming for you. How many more women do we have to lose before you start to take [responsibility]? My mum shouldn’t be a statistic. She should be here with me.”

“You better start listening now because enough is enough. I’m going to get justice for everyone. I am my mother’s daughter.”

Ms Wake finished by addressing her mother with a familiar expression they once shared.

“I’ll see you later alligator. I love you.”

The congregation on Hobart’s parliament lawns was one of three candlelight vigils that took place across the state, with similar events in Launceston and Ulverstone.

Cut outs played a part at many vigils, this group pictured at Launceston.(ABC News: Ashleigh Barraclough)

A child holds a candle at the Melbourne vigil.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)


A record number of people gathered at the Family Violence Memorial Garden in East Melbourne for a vigil with landmarks lit up in purple, as was the case in many cities and towns.

Boyd Unwin, whose daughter Katie was murdered by her partner in 2018, said the event was important for victims and their families.

“[The vigil] is a way of respectfully acknowledging many of the lives lost, most of them in horrific circumstances,” he said.

“For a moment we can reflect on the victims’ lives not as statistics but as loved ones with valued family members.”

A woman attending the Melbourne vigil wipes away tears.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

A victim’s name is held aloft at the Melbourne vigil.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

Boyd said he wants Katie to be remembered for who she was and not what happened to her.

“Our place has never been the same since … whether it be the phone calls you get or her walking through the front door and taking over the whole house basically because of her presence.

“Part of us is missing.”

A large crowd gathered in Melbourne for their vigil.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)


In Sydney’s eastern suburbs, the rain held off for just long enough on Wednesday to allow a vigil to continue, with domestic violence survivors and politicians speaking about the need to bring about change.

Roses being left at the Randwick vigil.(ABC News: Xanthe Gregory)

Lived experience advocate Nadine Taylor said the fact that one woman is killed by a man every four days is an “epidemic” and called on governments to declare a national emergency.

“The cost of living crisis is leaving women with the choice of staying with their abusers or facing homelessness,” Ms Taylor said.

Nadine Taylor called on Australian governments to declare a national emergency in order to properly address the problem.(ABC News: Xanthe Gregory)

Not far away from Randwick, the Bondi Junction stabbing attack occurred just weeks ago where women were allegedly targeted.

“Men need to change their behaviours so when there is an inkling for any disrespect for women other men need to stand up and say that is not acceptable in Australia,” federal Labor MP Matt Thistlethwaite told the crowd.

“It is only through changes in behaviours in men that we are going to achieve real change in Australia,” he said.

Police officers hold roses at the Randwick vigil.(ABC News: Xanthe Gregory)


In Adelaide, a vigil at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden heard from Greg Ireland, whose 19-year-old daughter Chelsea was murdered — along with her boyfriend — by her boyfriend’s father almost four years ago.

Mr Ireland told the gathering, a group that included several state MPs, of the agony of losing a child at the hands of someone “you would expect to keep them safe”.

“‘I know of no greater love than that of a parent for their child.’ This was the first line of my victim impact statement and it is as true for me today as it was the day I penned it,” Mr Ireland said.

“On August 22, 2020, my beautiful, amazing daughter Chelsea and her adorable boyfriend Lukasz had their lives taken away by the very person you would expect to keep them safe — an ultimate betrayal.

“People see, read and hear the events through the media. They think ‘how awful’, and then move on with their lives — I know, because I used to be one of those people.”

Kimberley Wanganeen, deputy chair of Women’s Safety Services SA, said the situation regarding domestic and family violence was “particularly poignant” for South Australians, in light of recent events.

She highlighted the deaths of four women who were allegedly killed in separate and unrelated incidents over the course of a week in November.

“As many of you here tonight are aware, late last year South Australia experienced what we understand to be the worst week for fatal domestic and family violence ever recorded in any Australian jurisdiction,” she said.

“The women we lost in that terrible week and their loved ones are at the forefront of our minds tonight.

“We are here this evening to honour all of the women whose lives have been taken, all of the women we have lost. We honour and remember them.”


In Brisbane, vigil attendees were told domestic violence affects “all communities”.

Immigrant Women’s Support Services’ director Kathryn Rendell said this year was particularly difficult with there being “so many extra deaths.”

“We are sadly also here commemorating the loss of lives to domestic violence and sexual violence,” she said, adding many women who access her services are here on visas and have limited English.

“We do find that the women and children we work with are particularly vulnerable,” Ms Rendell said.

Challenge DV chief executive officer Keith Tracey-Patte said it was important for men to be visible at these events to support women.

“[Men have] got to stop that excuse making and really understand exactly what this is, educate ourselves and stand beside the women in our life to make a difference,” he said.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles and the state’s police commissioner Steve Gollschewski also spoke at the event.

“I stand in solidarity with each of you,” Mr Miles said.

Vanessa Fowler, sister of murder victim Allison Baden-Clay, says victim-survivors are “finally being seen and heard”.(ABC Wide Bay: Grace Whiteside)


Vanessa Fowler knows too well the devastation and grief caused by domestic and family violence — her sister, Allison Baden-Clay, was murdered by her husband in Brisbane in 2012.

Ms Fowler is an advocate for victims of gendered violence, as the chair of the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation and co-chair of the Queensland government’s Domestic and Family Violence Protection Council.

She said there was a growing momentum for change.

“There is strength in numbers … those victim-survivors, who have walked the streets and rallied for change, are finally being seen and heard.”

Gold Coast

Melanie started off her career working in the family and domestic violence sector in a women’s refuge 25 years ago.

Mel says the key to fixing the broken system is in early intervention and educating children about healthy relationships and gender inequality.(ABC News: Jessica Lamb)

Now, recently back at the helm of Gold Coast Macleod Women’s Refuge, Melanie said she was astounded by how little things have changed.

“We’re still doing the same thing we did 20-something years ago,” she said.

“We are a high risk refuge, when they come to us … they are literally fleeing for their life.

“We’re a short, short-term accommodation service, so it’s really 12–13 weeks. That’s not enough to recover.”

Melanie said it has been difficult to keep up security and safety with evolving technology and GPS tracking devices hidden in women’s cars and phones in recent years.

She said her team has had a hard week.

“Every death is a blow. It’s a kick in the teeth. [We] work so hard to prevent this and it’s still happening.”

Tamara Saint at the Gold Coast vigil.(ABC News: Jessica Lamb)

Tamara Saint was at the Gold Coast vigil with a sign commemorating her niece and nephew who were killed by her brother-in-law Jayson Dalton in a murder suicide on Anzac Day in Brisbane more than 20 years ago.

Thirteen-week-old baby Patrick and his one-year-old sister Jessie were suffocated by their father during a visit with Dalton in 2004.

Dalton had been awarded access to the children one weekend a fortnight following a legal battle for custody with Tamara’s sister, Dionne Fehring, after she left him because of his abuse.

Last year would have been Jessie’s 21st birthday and Ms Saint commemorated the occasion by singing Happy Birthday at the grave site with family — an experience she doesn’t want any other family to have to face.

“I’m very disappointed because I’ve had people that I know who have said men have commented to them ‘why are they doing this? What’s it gonna get them?” she said.

“Men, especially men, need to step up more. The victims are given all the education, but the perpetrator is not.”

Candles at the Townsville vigil.(ABC News)


An emotional crowd largely comprised of victim-survivors and community leaders gathered at Townsville’s Women Centre in North Queensland.

Police say in Townsville, domestic violence exceeds the highly publicised issue of youth crime, with local police attending more than 37 call-outs each day.

The local crisis intervention resource service said it had already supported 2,613 clients in Townsville this year.

Those numbers include victim-survivors and people using violence in relationships.


Dozens of women, men and children braved the rain at a vigil in Bunbury in South West WA, placing candles in front of placards representing more than 60 women killed across the country since this time last year.

A vigil was held in Bunbury, in WA’s South West honouring the lives of women lost to family and domestic violence.(ABC South West: Bridget McArthur)

Robyn Wilson from local service provider Waratah Support Centre read the names and detailed the lives and personalities of the women who the placards symbolised.

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